NEWS

No early elections and no handouts

PM puts a lid on ministers’ and MPs’ demands while preparing for next year’s dual battle

No early elections and no handouts

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is already looking forward to the inevitable doubleheader of elections that will take place, as he insists, next year, when the government’s four-year term ends.

Mitsotakis and his close aides plan for this year to be one where implementing already announced reforms, in health, education and the economy will give ruling New Democracy a boost and a chance to impress on voters that the present government represents stability.

The premier is also moving decisively to snuff out speculation about early elections within his own ranks, speculation that, Kathimerini understands, has led to pressure from ministers and backbenchers alike for handouts that will satisfy their specific clienteles.

Related to that was a rumor about large-scale subsidies to mitigate the inflationary wave sparked by soaring energy costs and logistics problems on a global scale. Mitsotakis and the Finance Ministry have made it clear that the primary budget deficit target, 1.4% of GDP, will not be exceeded.

Keeping a lid on spending will also enforce the main message that Mitsotakis wants to send, that his government represents stability and that the opposition, especially main opposition SYRIZA, with its increasing demands for more spending, represents adventurism and a return to a past that the electorate, if opinion polls are correct, seems to want to put behind it.

To enhance his credibility, Mitsotakis declared that he will not amend the electoral law his party voted for to increase the bonus in seats given to the election winners.

The first of two elections will take place under rules voted on by the previous SYRIZA government and will almost certainly result in a hung parliament; a coalition government looks highly unlikely. Thus, a second election is expected soon afterward, as happened in 2012, in which New Democracy, seen so far as the likeliest winner, will aim for a parliamentary majority under the new electoral law.

Another benefit of the reforms, Mitsotakis believes, is that they will force the socialist Movement for Change (KINAL), third in the polls but rising, to choose between cooperation and opposition. In the latter case, Mitsotakis, who wants to keep the centrist and center-left voters that flocked to him in 2019, will paint the socialists as indistinguishable from SYRIZA.