Greek PM goes for re-election amid a myriad of government scandals

Greek PM goes for re-election amid a myriad of government scandals
Credit: Belga

Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is seeking a second term in Sunday's national elections and currently leads the polls despite a succession of scandals that have rocked his premiership.

In what is expected to be a very close general election in Greece, current polls do not show a definitive winner, which would result in a second round of voting.

The Prime Minister's party, New Democracy (ND), leads the polls with over 30% of the vote, which is not enough to form a government. Syriza are polling at around 25%, while PASOK are in third with just under 9%.

The key difference will be the difference between Syriza and New Democracy going into the second round, which could determine the momentum for a victory. A coalition between the two main parties also seems out of the question – but third-place PASOK, could play kingmaker.

Three leaders contending for Greek PM: Mitstokais (New Democracy), Tsipras (Syriza) and Androulakis (PASOK). Credit: Belga

Over the past four years, the Greek Prime Minister has attempted to portray Greece as a good student of the EU in order to encourage foreign investment. He is now promising "changes that will make Greece a modern European country."

Yet the election campaign has been marred by multiple scandals during Mitsotakis' term, which has eaten into his poll lead.

The Prime Minister had been under fire at both internationally and domestically for his role at the heart of a large illegal spyware scandal. Mitsotakis is accused of having been involved in the spying of opposition politicians, journalists, business leaders, and even his own ministers, through the use of spyware. One of his first moves as PM in 2019 was to bring the intelligence services under his control.

To add to the pressure, a New York Times investigation published on Friday exposed the Greek government for carrying out illegal pushbacks of migrants and refugees at the EU’s external border. Footage showed the Greek authorities transporting boats full of people and abandoning them at sea – a gross breach of fundamental rights and EU law.

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The railway accident near the town of Larissa in late February is also still fresh in the minds of Greek voters. Demonstrations were held nationwide after the collision between the two trains, killing 57 people. Many Greek citizens blamed the Mitsotakis government for neglecting to invest in the maintenance and modernisation of Greek railways.

An investigation which was made public last month assigned blame to the unexperienced station master and to the chain of Greek and foreign operators that were responsible for systemic failings despite EU funding. A crucial point was the unfinished modernization of the railway system, which according to the critics could have prevented the accident.

Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing Syriza party, said the government's claimed economic recovery was a sham. Tsipras has campaigned against austerity, low wages and the loss of young people who have gone abroad to work.

He says that the Greek people are still suffering the consequences of the drastic austerity measures that have radically changed the face of the country. On Sunday, Tsipras light-heartedly quipped on Tik Tok in a 14-second clip: “What’s up bro? Heading to the polls today?”

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