Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Greek Elections: 400-Word Guide


Millions of Greeks are currently participating in a general election in the European Union country. The main issues affecting voters include the economy, jobs, and security with neighbouring Turkey. Polls opened at 7am local time and will close at 07:00 GMT. A joint exit poll conducted by six polling agencies will be published as soon as voting concludes, with a first estimate of the vote count expected at about 8:30pm. Parties need to clear the 3 percent threshold to enter the 300-seat parliament.

New Democracy, a centre-right party led by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is currently polling between 31-38 percent, followed by Syriza, the main opposition leftist party headed by Alexis Tsipras that is trailing by 4-7 percentage points. However, the election is unlikely to produce an outright winner following a change to the country’s electoral system. A repeat vote is expected by early July unless the political parties agree on coalition, which is widely seen as unlikely.

The polls find the country in fairly strong economic health, with unemployment falling and growth this year projected to reach twice that of the European Union. But economic issues remain squarely in focus amid a biting cost of living crisis. Mitsotakis has called on voters not to throw away hard-fought economic stability, while Tsipras accuses New Democracy of practising trickledown economics – nurturing only growth, but not managing wealth distribution.

Should no party win outright, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will give the leader of the biggest party a three-day mandate to form a coalition. If this fails, the exploratory mandate will be handed to the second party, and then to the third. If the parties cannot agree, the president holds a final meeting with party leaders to form a government or an interim government that will call elections. If they still cannot agree, she appoints a caretaker government to call new elections.

Crucially, in that election, the system will revert to semi-proportional representation, with a sliding scale seat bonus, increasing the chances of a party to win outright. Under that semi-proportional system, the winning party is awarded with a bonus of 20 seats outright, if it gets at least 25 percent of the vote, and can get up to 50 seats, if it gets about 40 percent of the vote.

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