Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has long insisted he will see his full four-year term through before going to the polls again, has recently been dropping subtle hints of an early election.
Last week, in an interview to state TV ERT, Mitsotakis said “a case for early elections can always be made,” adding that if talk of snap polls persists in the public sphere, it could lead to “10 months of polarization, tension and a toxic climate” that would be “bad for the country.”
Later last week, in the annual general assembly of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, when asked about the timing of the elections, Mitsotakis replied that “this is the last SEV general assembly before the elections, which are scheduled for spring 2023.” This introduction of uncertainty, by not saying “will take place,” got pundits buzzing.
Some see elections as early as the autumn. But, for this two happen, the country must not be in a state of crisis. This means no major damage from the expected wildfires, at least not on last year’s scale, and, second, relations with Turkey must be at a bearable level of tension. This is because a double election is all but a certainty and a caretaker prime minister and cabinet will be in charge in between the two rounds – not the best situation under which to face a crisis.
There is also a risk in not holding early elections: the opposition could accuse Mitsotakis of skittishness and planning to wait until the last possible moment. But, so far, ruling New Democracy has been enjoying a comfortable lead in opinion polls. Whether that will be enough to secure Mitsotakis an overall majority remains to be seen.