Greece’s conservative prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, recently ruled out the prospect of a snap poll.
A government normally calls early elections after it has spent a few years in power and with the aim of arresting its political decline. This is not the case with New Democracy today.
Speculation about an early election in Greece is rife. The idea is that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis would secure victory before his political capital – which has soared thanks to the so far successful management of the coronavirus pandemic – begins to wane. The argument however is essentially an expression of insecurity as it is based on the assumption that the precipitous rise in the premier’s popularity is a product of circumstance and fleeting, and that it will be used up in just a few months (given that the proposed date for an early ballot is September). It is important that Mitsotakis himself ruled out the prospects of a snap poll in an interview with Kathimerini a couple of weeks ago.
Proponents of the idea also claim that victory would mean the ultimate defeat of leftist SYRIZA and the political death of opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, allowing the country to finally rid itself of this leftist irritation. Obsessions however are a bad counselor. Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ father, Konstantinos, had a long political career. And yet his long-standing confrontation with socialist leader Andreas Papandreou made him seek his political annihilation. This eventually helped resurrect his enemy and led to his own fall from the helm of New Democracy.
Earlier, a military dictatorship had scrapped Greece’s parliamentary system to rid the country of the threat from communism and the left at large. This only led to a leftist hegemony after the fall of the seven-year junta. Papandreou and his political offshoot managed to rule the country for about 20 years while SYRIZA took over for another four-and-a-half years.
The safest way to weaken your political rival is to implement a political program that betters the lot of society. Also, you must work hard and stay focused. Some government officials, it seems, are tired already and want to return to the politicking of yesteryear.
Furthermore, the fact that the next election will be held under a system of simple proportional representation means that voters will have to go to the ballot box twice. Such an event would totally derail the Greek economy, which will have already been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The question that inevitably arises is what would New Democracy have to gain from all that, other than an extra year in power. The mind of politicians is like an abyss; no one really knows what goes on in there. Everything will depend on Mitsotakis and his decision will show if he is something more than just another ordinary politician.