Greece votes for Parliament as left poised for loss
Greeks take to the polls early on Sunday to vote again for parliament after the ruling party failed to get a parliamentary majority.
Greeks are back at the polls again Sunday for a second round of elections as the country's conservative Prime Minister is seeking re-election and an absolute parliamentary majority.
Polling stations opened for the second round at 7:00 am local time.
Mitsotakis has his eyes on the premiership once again after guiding the country through tumultuous times through the COVID-19 pandemic, and though he is a highly controversial figure, the economy under him has seen two consecutive years of growth.
Having already won the election last month, the Greek premier called for a second round so as to be able to garner an absolute parliamentary majority after falling five seats short, seeking to form a single-party government.
Mitsotakis had won the previous election, leaving former prime minister Alexis Tsipras in the dust, more than 20% behind, despite massive popular demonstrations taking place against the Greek official due to his economic policies and pro-Western tendencies.
Conservatives received their highest performance since 2007, with voters praising the party for restoring economic stability to a country that was previously seen as an EU laggard.
Thousands of Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supporters flooded onto the streets of Athens ahead of the May 21 parliamentary elections in Greece. KKE General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas emphasized the need to fight against the country's "transformation into a US-NATO base." pic.twitter.com/lImBkvEIcz— red. (@redstreamnet) May 18, 2023
The election rules would give the winner of the vote some 50 extra seats, with the ruling New Democracy party, Mitsotakis' own, expected to win; though one key concern is abstinence, as the party being so likely to win might push its supporters to ignore the vote and therefore give the leftists a much-needed push.
The premier has already warned that a third round might take place if he does not manage to win the majority through this one.
"I hope we don't have to meet again in early August," he told Skai TV hours ahead of the campaigning blackout on Saturday, adding that "this is no joke [...] All the gains we have made must be consolidated and continue."
The conservative premier had won against Tsipras in 2019 through a landslide victory to garner which he pledged to end a decade of economic crisis.
Many experts attribute the growth that followed suit in 2021 and 2022, at 8.3% and 5.9%, respectively, to the fact that the premier had the license to spend more under the European Union's more relaxed pandemic-era rules.
It is worth noting that Mitsotakis was the country's first premier post-bailout era, which had seen his predecessor hiking taxes in order to build up a budget surplus, which was demanded by international creditors. This comes as unemployment and inflation are receding and growth this year forecast to be twice that of the European Union average.
Interim Interior Minister Calliope Spanou is forecasted to formally announce the results at midday on Monday.
President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will then summon Mitsotakis and formally give him the mandate to seek coalitions in order to establish a coalition government, which the conservative leader has already said he will reject.
Mitsotakis' rule had been marred by a wiretapping scandal, as well as a February train catastrophe that killed 57 people.
The government first blamed the catastrophe, Greece's worst-ever train disaster, on human error, despite the fact that the country's infamously weak rail network had been underinvested for years.
Despite the large demonstrations that erupted in the aftermath of the rail catastrophe, Kostas Karamanlis, the transport minister at the time, was re-elected on Sunday.
Meanwhile, he left is expected to try to flip the trend by campaigning on the cost-of-living issues that many voters are concerned about.