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Greece: Voting begins in the legislative elections and expectations for a second round


Greeks cast their ballots on Sunday in legislative elections unlikely to produce an outright winner, with a second round expected by July if the country’s divided political parties cannot agree on a coalition.

Greeks began voting on Sunday in legislative elections that could open a period of uncertainty, despite the promise of the outgoing right-wing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to make the country “stronger” if he wins.

Emerging from a polling booth in Athens, the conservative leader of the New Democracy party, running for a second term in four years, said he wanted to make Greece “a stronger country with an important role in Europe”. “We are voting for our future, for more jobs, better jobs and a more efficient health system,” he said, accompanied by two of his three children.

At a polling station in a popular neighborhood in the capital, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Radical Left-Progressive Alliance (Syriza), said that this vote constitutes a “day of hope to turn the page on four difficult years” with a “arrogant” government that does not care about the most numerous.

The leader of Syriza, who in 2015 embodied the hopes of the radical left in Europe, hopes to restore power in his country after a first term from 2015 to 2019 that was characterized by confrontation with the European Union and then surrender during stormy negotiations to save Greece from financial recession.

forming an alliance?

Opinion polls conducted as voters exit polling stations will be published after voting ends at 19:00 (16:00 GMT).
The participation rate in the Sunday afternoon poll was 31.5%, according to figures issued by the Ministry of the Interior, which included 16,520 polling stations. Analysts expect a high abstention rate, after a record abstention rate in 2019 of 42%.

Opinion polls for months have indicated a comfortable lead for the Mitsotakis camp, with between five and seven points. These results, if achieved, will not allow the right to rule alone, while Kyriakos Mitsotakis ruled out forming a coalition in a country whose political culture is not based on compromise.

For his part, Tsipras, 48, called for the leader of “Basok-Kinal” Nikos Androulakis to form an alliance, but the latter set conditions. In an interview with “To Vima” newspaper on Sunday, he stressed that “our goal is to obtain an absolute majority.”

And he considered that this is a guarantee of stability, adding, “The real question is, will we advance or retreat? Who will be responsible for the state in the face of Turkey, whose future is uncertain?”

In the event that it is not possible to form a government team, as many analysts expect, a new ballot will have to be held at the end of June or the beginning of July, and the winner of this second ballot will benefit from a seat bonus that gives him a stable majority. However, it seems that voters are not interested in these elections, while analysts fear a high abstention rate. It had reached 42% in 2019, reaching .

And the Athens News Agency reported on Sunday that five people were arrested on Saturday evening in northern Greece, for attempting to carry out electoral fraud. Local police said they confiscated 197 identity cards and passports in a bag containing 114 sealed envelopes, all with a card with the same name inside, as well as 6,000 euros.

In Aigalio, a western suburb of Athens, 67-year-old pensioner Maria Tumbabakis hopes for “change,” but she is “not very optimistic.” As for Yevgenia (41 years old), who did not mention her last name, she said that she had “difficulty choosing.”

For his part, Stelios Lapas, 45, a cattle breeder in Karditsa (center), laments the lack of “passion” for a campaign that was considered slow. “I hope this does not lead to a high rate of abstention,” he said. However, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the son of a former prime minister, and a Harvard graduate, did not stop during an election tour on the island of Crete on the Turkish border, praising the outcome of his performance in the field of economy.

Ten years of painful sacrifices

He referred to the decline in the unemployment rate, recording a growth rate of about 6 percent last year, the return of investments, a boom in tourism, and the recovery of the economy again after years of severe crisis and European rescue plans. However, the decline in purchasing power and the difficulty of covering the monthly expenses of families are the most important concerns of the population, who have made painful sacrifices in the past ten years.

A large number of Greeks are forced to settle for low wages and have lost confidence in public services, which have been reduced to their minimum levels due to measures to cut costs. At the same time, the country is still under debt, which constitutes 170 percent of its gross domestic product.

“Life is very difficult, especially for young people,” said Dora Vasilopoulou, 41, who lives in Athens, enumerating “the high level of unemployment, the absence of professional prospects, and wages that melt in the middle of the month.”

“We are going from bad to worse, and we are working just to survive,” said Yorgos Antonopoulos, 39, who works in a shop in Thessaloniki, the country’s second city.

The train disaster, which killed 57 people at the end of February, has awakened chronic anger in Greece since the financial crisis, and led to demonstrations against the conservative government, which is accused of neglecting the safety of the railway network.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis also faces a scandal over illegal wiretapping of politicians and journalists. In March, the European Parliament condemned “serious threats to the rule of law and fundamental rights” in Greece, in the words of Dutch MP Sophie Entveld.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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