ATHENS — Greece will hold a parliamentary election on May 21, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Tuesday.
“The country and its citizens need clear horizons,” Mitsotakis said during a Cabinet meeting. “The national elections will be held at the end of the four-year term, as I had committed from the start. They will take place on Sunday, May 21.”
The conservative New Democracy government’s four-year term expires in July.
While opinion polls show Mitsotakis’ New Democracy in the lead over the main opposition left-wing Syriza party, the gap has narrowed following a rail disaster on February 28 that killed 57 people, stirring public anger. The government’s lead has narrowed to 4 percent, according to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls.
The May 21 vote will take place under a new proportional representation system, making it difficult for any party to gather a majority. Two rounds of voting are likely, as Mitsotakis has repeatedly said he will try to secure a parliamentary majority — without resorting to a coalition government. “If a second round is needed to cancel the adventure of proportional representation, it will take place by early July at the latest,” Mitsotakis said.
Numbers suggest that based on current polling it will be almost impossible to form a majority government even after the second round and a coalition will be needed. The first party would need to get around 38 percent of the vote in the second round to form a thin majority.
Public anger following the deadly train crash joins other issues the Greek government is dealing with, including high inflation and food prices, financial wrongdoing by conservative MPs, a wiretapping scandal and a secret offer by Saudi Arabia to pay for football stadiums for Greece and Egypt if they agreed to team up and host the 2030 World Cup.
While acknowledging that “mistakes were made,” Mitsotakis said his party slogan will be “we will continue to change Greece more unconventionally and boldly.”
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