Diego Saez Papachristou |
Athens (EFE).– Greece celebrates this Sunday legislative elections in which the current prime minister and favorite according to the polls, the conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, seeks to be re-elected while his main rival, the former leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras, tries to return to the can.
The ruling conservative New Democracy (ND) party, led by Mitsotakis, leads the polls with 33% in voting intentions compared to 26% for the leftist Syriza, led by Tsipras.
The conservative leader has managed in recent weeks to recover some of the public anger against the Government, caused by the train accident that left 57 dead in northern Greece last February.
The scandal of listening to politicians and journalists by the secret services – under the direct control of Mitsotakis – that broke out in August does not seem to affect the prime minister either, despite the fact that the opposition highlighted the issue during the electoral campaign.
Nikos Marantzidis, professor of Political Science at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, told EFE that “despite concerns about the rule of law and discontent about the railway tragedy, opponents (of the prime minister) fail to present a alternative government proposal.
Tsipras assures that he intends to “form a progressive government” to “expel the worst right-wing government since the fall of the (military) dictatorship” and “make Greece a European country” in economic and social rights matters.
However, both the Social Democrats of Pasok-Kinal, the third political force, with a calculation of 10% of voting intentions, as well as the leftist Mera25 (3.5%) and the Communist Party of Greece (6%) assure that they will not even enter nor will they support an executive led by Tsipras.
The four parties together would reach just the minimum 45% required to win an absolute majority of 151 seats in Parliament.
All of this, in elections that launch a proportional electoral system that eliminates the prize of 50 seats for the first party, which would actually be an opportunity for the left-wing opposition to take over the Government.
Voters focus on the economy
According to a recent study by the University of Macedonia, 58% of Greeks say they are most concerned about economic conditions, most notably inflation, which topped 10% last year.
Only 6% of voters highlighted endemic corruption in the Hellenic country as their main concern.
Although Mitsotakis has not been able to alleviate the galloping inflation in basic foods, during his tenure he has managed to make the economy grow above the European average and large foreign investments have arrived.
Last August, Greece abandoned the surveillance mechanisms imposed by its creditors during the previous 12 years and is currently one “notch” away from regaining investment grade status in financial markets.
Syriza, for its part, points out that “the Mitsotakis economy” works only for “the few and powerful” and not for the majority, for which reason it promises a more redistributive model that reduces social inequality.
However, his proposals do not seem to convince a large part of the population, says Marantzidis.
“An important part of Hellenic society associates Tsipras with the polarization and economic insecurity of the referendum (on austerity measures) in 2015,” recalls the expert.
That year the leftist leader confronted the European institutions, which put Greece on the verge of leaving the eurozone.
“It is something that many cannot forget. Even if they don’t vote for Mitsotakis, they don’t want to support Tsipras either,” says the analyst.
Although all the polls give victory to the conservatives, 10% of voters remain undecided.
In addition, the reform of the electoral system promoted in 2016 by Syriza reduced the minimum age to participate in elections from 18 to 17 years, so there will be some 430,000 voters between 17 and 21 who will be able to vote for the first time this Sunday.
Mitsotakis has made it clear that if a government cannot be formed after these elections, he will call new elections at the beginning of July, in which the bonus of up to 50 seats will return to the first party.