New Democracy, it seems, will not be able to accumulate enough parliamentary seats to govern on its own. That’s why it is already announcing new elections on 2 July, when, under the new old rules, the leading party would get additional seats
The winner of yesterday’s Greek parliamentary elections is the conservative New Democracy of the incumbent Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which won more than 40% of the vote. The left-wing Syriza followed with 20%. In third place are the socialists Pasok-Movement for Change, which polled around 12% of the vote.
As expected, the Communist Party of Greece, the radical-patriotic Greek Salvation also entered Parliament. The left-wing Free Path, the patriotic Victory Party and Varoufakis’s Mera25 will not be able to break through to parliament with at least three per cent of the vote. But the winners of the elections still did not get enough votes to govern on their own. Last night’s results would have given them 146 votes, but to govern on their own they would have needed at least 151 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. Regardless, the loser of these elections is Syriza.
Polling stations opened at 7am yesterday morning for nearly ten million voters, 400 000 of whom were voting for the first time. Even then, the first voters were already heading for the primary schools that traditionally host the elections. Long queues snaked outside the 25th Primary School in the Galaci district of Athens, leading into colourful classrooms. “I will vote for Syriza so that we are not ruled by Mitsotakis again,” says Eleni, a 35-year-old archaeologist. “Our lives have become reduced to existential dilemmas. We have degrees, but we work for minimum wage. No, we don’t want New Democracy and the other parties don’t promise us a better future,” she explains.
The Greeks are no longer concerned with questions about the neoliberal austerity measures that have pushed Greece to the brink of economic survival. The main issue in this election was how to remove the current Prime Minister, who is mired in political and economic scandals. “I will vote for New Democracy. I always have and I always will,” says 76-year-old Yorgos, who went to the polling station, well-groomed and wearing a bright tie. Members of some political parties are marching around the polling stations, still fighting in the morning for the votes of those who might change their minds.
In the working-class district of Galatsi, there are no representatives of the conservative New Democracy, which all the polls had predicted would win. But they are to be found in the centre of Athens, on the Syntagma platform in front of Parliament. The blue and white tent of New Democracy is set up like a cosy living room with white chairs. All the slogans of the country’s most influential party, which has been involved in the running of the country for four decades, are aimed at the future: “Stable, courageous, forward!”.
Why repeat elections
A stone’s throw away, on the Klathmonos platform, there is no crowd among the electoral headquarters: the leftist Syriza, the socialist Pasok and the progressive Mera25 share the traditionally leftist terrain. The three party leaders, Alexis Tsipras, Nikos Androulakis and Yanis Varoufakis, who during the pre-election campaign assured that they would not colaborate with Mitsotakis, are looking towards each other from the designer electoral tents. “Are they announcing that cooperation will be possible?” we ask the Syriza headquarters.
“First we will turn to the two parties that are here, to our immediate neighbourhood”, the Syriza strategy is unveiled and the fear of what New Democracy is predicting comes true is expressed. Once again, elections on 2 July. “Young people aged between 17 and 20 voted 40% for Syriza. If there is a second round of elections, which is what New Democracy wants, we will lose this extremely important electorate because of the summer months,” they tell us.
The cradle of democracy is tackling the abuse of the electoral system. For the first time in several years, the winning party will not get an extra 50 seats and the votes will be distributed proportionally according to the electoral outcome. However, the ruling New Democracy has already secured a change in the law and would again give the leading party extra seats in the July elections. It will obviously have to do this if it wants to govern on its own.
“This kind of election will again lead to extreme polarisation,” political analyst Yorgos Sefertzis commented on Open TV, “while at the same time it would further consolidate the rule of a single party.”
Mitsotakis has three days to form a government. If he fails to do so, he will have to hand over the option to Tsipras. In this, his fate will lie mainly in the hands of the Socialists, who insisted in the pre-election struggle: “Neither Alexis nor Kyriakos.” Greece is therefore in for an exciting week, when the parties will show how faithful they are to their pre-election promises.
The article was originally published in Slovenian language, 27.6.2023: Micotakis bo verjetno izsilil ponovitev volitev (vecer.com)