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On eve of election, Greece eyes Mitsotakis win

By AFP - Jun 24,2023 - Last updated at Jun 24,2023

Supporters of the leftist Syriza Party wave flags during the party’s main campaign rally in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Friday (AFP photo)

ATHENS — Sipping her four-euro ($4.36) freddo in a suburban Athens cafe, Maria N. says she has no illusions about how Greece’s national election on Sunday is going to turn out.

“I’m not even sure I’m going to vote, the outcome is foregone,” the doctor says.

With opinion polls giving him a lead of around 20 percentage points, conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is almost assured of winning a second straight four-year term.

But he fears that voter apathy could end up costing him the absolute majority he seeks, which was the whole point of him calling fresh elections for the second time in a month.

Crediting him with bringing back stable economic growth to a country once notorious for its debt woes, voters gave Mitsotakis 40.79 per cent of the vote on May 21.

But his party fell five seats short of a parliamentary majority, which would have required the 55-year-old to govern in a coalition, something that he has refused.

Getting voters to return to the polls however is a gamble for the former Harvard graduate and McKinsey financial consultant. His key challenge is to keep the 9.8 million eligible Greek voters away from the beach this weekend.

He has even gone as far as to warn of a third election in August, at the height of the busy tourism season, if he fails to clinch enough votes to form his own government.

“I hope we don’t have to meet again in early August,” he told Skai TV on the last day of campaigning. “This is no joke,” he added.

 

‘Not strong’ 

 

On May 21, Mitsotakis crushed the leftist Syriza party of former prime minister Alexis Tsipras by over 20 points in a victory nobody expected to be as clear.

A Pulse poll for Skai TV on Thursday suggested that 73 per cent would vote for the same party they chose in May.

Tsipras is still remembered as the prime minister who nearly crashed Greece out of the euro. Having now lost four electoral contests to Mitsotakis, his future as head of Syriza is at stake.

He warned this week against giving Mitsotakis a “blank cheque” that would enable him to carry out a “hidden agenda” of anti-social policies.

But cafe-owner Agueliki Giannopoulou, 45, is not convinced. Tsipras, he said, “says nothing of note. His message is not strong”.

For many Greeks however, high consumer prices remain a constant source of worry despite the headline growth figure touted by Mitsotakis.

In front of a sports betting shop, two retirees were discussing the high cost of living.

“Prices are changing every day at the supermarkets,” said Konstantinos Noumas, noting that cherries were being sold for 1.70 a kilogramme at cooperatives as supermarkets charged 6.0 euros a kilo.

His friend, Zissis Karagiorgos, 67, hoped that “the people, especially young people will stop being afraid of change”.

While normally more inclined to vote left, even young Greeks mainly voted conservative at the last vote.

Nikos Giorgiou, 24, who had turned up with her mother at Syntagma Square on Friday for Mitsotakis’ final campaign rally said he “deserves an absolute majority”.

“Only Mitsotakis can allow the country to stabilise economically and to offer a future for young people who had gone into exile during the economic crisis,” he said.

Student Giorgos Bistouras, 20, said he simply hoped that “salaries will improve and that promises will be kept”.

 

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