Greece’s main party leaders cast their vote on Sunday’s triple elections, in a poll widely seen as a vote of confidence in the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Forty party lists are running for Greece’s 21 European Parliament seats. For the EU elections, the country is considered as one constituency, so political parties present single tickets for the entire country.
The triple elections are closely watched as they will provide a glimpse of the electorate's mood ahead of the national polls to be held on or before October 20. So far, all surveys give a safe lead to the Conservatives of Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Speaking after he cast his vote, the Greek premier urged voters to defend the series of tax cuts and handouts announced by the government earlier this year and warned that they could be rolled back if the opposition gains significant ground.
“This is a day of responsibility for everyone to defend the sacrifices and efforts of the Greek people...to ratify and protect the economic recovery but also the relief measures, and not allow anyone to take them back,” he told the cameras after he voted in central Athens.
On his side, main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, noted the large participation in the elections and expressed confidence that his party will come out victorious.
“This is the time for citizens to have their say. I fully trust their judgement and I’m certain that tomorrow a new day will dawn for our country,” he told journalists.
Fofi Gennimata, the leader of the socialist Movement for Change (KINAL), called on voters to reject populists and the far-right.
“Today, voters will turn a page in Europe and Greece, opening the way for progressive developments. They will close the door on the far-right and populism.”
Earlier in the day, former junior coalition partner and leader of the populist, right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, Panos Kammenos, urged Greeks to “elect people who want to serve Greece” and not themselves.
Kammenos quit from the SYRIZA-led coalition in January 2019 over his vehement opposition to the Prespes accord, a deal which ended a decades-old dispute with North Macedonia over the latter’s name.
The leader of centrist To Potami, Stavros Theodorakis, urged young voters to participate in the elections. “Don’t stay behind, vote,” he said leaving the polling station.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. (EEST) and will close at 7 p.m. (EEST). The country has a total of 9,922,294 registered voters, of which 4,810,075 are men and 5,112,219 are women. Greeks living abroad vote a day earlier, on May 25.
This year, 528,000 Greeks will vote for the first time, including 106,760 17-year-olds, who will participate for the first time, following a change in the law by the SYRIZA-led government in 2016. Voting in the country is compulsory.
Greeks are also called upon to vote for 13 regional governors and 704 regional councillors, 332 mayors, 9,470 municipal councillors and 21,396 community councillors.