NEWS

Spring elections are not on the cards

PM may reshuffle cabinet ahead of fall ’22 or early ’23 polls; successive ballots look inevitable

spring-elections-are-not-on-the-cards

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis does not want to call an early election in the spring, more than a year before his four-year term expires in July 2023. But Kathimerini understands that a spring cabinet reshuffle is quite likely and that it is with this team that Mitsotakis will go to elections, either in fall 2022 or in 2023.

Chances are that the country will face two successive elections, as the first will take place under the simple proportional representation system that the previous SYRIZA government voted for, ostensibly as a nod to fairness but, really, as a time bomb against its successor. Under this system, a hung parliament, that is, one with no overall majority, is certain, and the prospects of a coalition of two or more parties are considered dim.

A new election will almost certainly be called, with a proportional system voted in by ruling New Democracy, with a bonus of seats to the first party. Still, it will be difficult to form a single-party cabinet, as experts say the winner must get at least 38% of the vote to ensure a parliamentary majority. New Democracy won the last election, in July 2019, with just under 40%.

The expected spread of the Omicron variant early next year makes elections at the height of the fifth wave of the pandemic almost impossible. But Mitsotakis had rejected a spring 2022 election, or two, even before Omicron.

First, he wanted to be judged on the results of a full, or nearly full, term, which he believes will compare favorably to SYRIZA’s. Second, he does not want to disturb the economic recovery, with citizens expecting no adventures, and when he will not have the excuse of a significantly different set of policies to follow. Third, he expects the initial enthusiasm that followed the election of a new leader for the socialist Movement for Change (KINAL) to wane somewhat, together with the party’s now relatively high poll numbers.

Still, New Democracy expects KINAL to achieve a double-digit result in any subsequent election, especially the first one, since the simple proportional system will encourage voters to vote for smaller parties. KINAL won 8.1% of the vote in 2019. Mitsotakis and his advisers believe, or hope, that the resurgent socialists, under young new leader Nikos Androulakis, will siphon off more votes from SYRIZA than New Democracy. SYRIZA’s leaders are hoping for the opposite.