Even though Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has repeatedly made it clear that his government will serve out its four-year term, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has reportedly sparked behind-the-scenes discussions about the possibility of holding elections before the summer, on the strict condition that the situation stabilizes.
As the was in Ukraine is pushing Greece and the world into a clearly different era requiring important decisions on the new security architecture of Europe and on the economy, many believe the government is justified to demand a renewal of the popular mandate. In addition, recent public opinion polls have suggested that the electorate is rallying around the government during the crisis.
The invasion by Russia and the insecurity it has caused has also been seen to vindicate Mitsotakis’ priority to strengthen Greece’s deterrence capabilities by concluding defense agreements with the US and France, and with the purchase of Rafale fighter jets and frigates.
What’s more, it is becoming increasingly clear to the public that energy price hikes and inflation are “imported” problems and that the government’s ability to offset them is limited, something which, according to opinion polls, was not as clear in the previous weeks.
Another factor is that Mitsotakis has, as polls would suggest, a clearer perspective on the crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion compared to main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, which is seen as a further boost to his leadership credentials. Tsipras’ leadership qualities have also come into question over the way he has dealt with the inner workings of his own party.
Moreover, centrist voters, who in many ways are pivotal to any electoral victory, gravitate to the message that Mitsotakis has repeatedly conveyed that Greece’s orientation is towards the West.
However, it should be noted that ruling New Democracy (ND) will face stiff competition from the centrist Movement for Change (KINAL) alliance and its leader Nikos Androulakis, who has also squarely stood by Greece’s western allies in the Ukraine crisis.
To its right however, ND could stand to gain from the admiration expressed by the leader of the nationalist Geek Solution Kyriakos Velopoulos for Russian President Vladimir Putin.