Tsipras asks for answers on European elections

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras asked the government Tuesday to clarify whether it is planning to hold European Parliament elections on May 18, when the first round of local polls will take place, or on May 25, when the second round of voting in municipalities and regions is due.

The government recently suggested that it would choose the second option, which SYRIZA believes would be in contravention of the law and would add about 50 million euros to the cost of holding the polls in May. Submitting a question to Parliament, Tsipras labeled such plans “anti-democratic and illegal.”

The Kallikratis law, which saw local government overhauled in 2010, stipulates that local officials should be elected on the same day that European elections are held. Tsipras argued that this means the European Parliament vote must take place on May 18 as local elections since 2002 show that about 60 percent of candidates are elected in the first round of polling.

He added that holding the European Parliament elections on the second Sunday, May 25, would mean ballot boxes being set up at every polling station in Greece for two weekends in a row, which would double the cost of the elections.

SYRIZA has suggested the government wants to hold the European Parliament elections on May 25 as the turnout will be lower then, possibly damaging the leftist party’s hopes and helping the coalition.

Speaking in Brussels Tuesday, PASOK leader and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greeks would be faced with a stark choice in May. “Greeks have to decide whether to choose a difficult plan that is nearing its end or an unknown plan that will take us back beyond square one,” he said.