Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other government officials are denying persistent rumors that there will be an early election in the fall.
Mitsotakis has repeatedly said that he wants to get to the end of his term, in July 2023, and to be judged on his work over the full four years and not only for his crisis management, as has been happening with the pandemic over the past 15 months.
Behind the scenes, however, others advise in favor of an early election. They point out that the end of this summer will be certainly better than last year’s and this could be reflected in an even wider lead over leftist opposition SYRIZA at the polls. They note the government’s remarkable resilience over the trying times of the health crisis and that, whereas other governments collapsed due to extended lockdowns, the uncertainty and growing citizen fatigue, center-right New Democracy has retained its voters.
Supporters of an early election also argue that a return to relative normalcy in 2022 will actually hurt the government, with citizens no longer seeing the need to rally around it. This would mean a shrunken lead in voting intentions, they say, and recommend a September election, with people still fresh from the summer holidays and prospects being better than last year.
Election proponents point out that opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, unable to dent Mitsotakis’ lead, is especially vulnerable and that a second defeat could be a fatal blow to him and his party, which he dominates without the likelihood of a strong successor emerging any time soon. Also, voters of the socialist Movement for Change, disappointed with their party’s stagnation and mostly hostile to Tsipras, could drift over to the right. If the socialists elect a new leader in November, such a migration will be less likely, they say.
Other pundits believe that the timing of a likely cabinet reshuffle could tip Mitsotakis’ hand. A reshuffle right after the summer and just before the annual Thessaloniki trade fair, where, traditionally, premiers set out their economic policies for the coming year, could mean he is sticking for the long haul, while one late in the year could signal an intention to fight a 2022 election.