Post-election coalition talks are likely

PM Mitsotakis prefers continued single-party rule, unless disappointing result forces his hand

Post-election coalition talks are likely

The leaders of Greece’s three biggest political parties are quietly considering their options about the possibility of forming a coalition government after the coming elections, irrespective of whether they want such a government or not.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has made his preference clear for a continued one-party government, with the ruling center-right New Democracy consistently ahead in opinion polls and with a good chance of achieving a parliamentary majority in a second election in late spring or early summer.

Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras has said his left-wing SYRIZA party will not seek to form a coalition cabinet after the first election if it ends up in second place, but is seeking a broad anti-conservative front following the second round, if there is still no clear overall winner. 

Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis is most open to a coalition after the first election, provided his party, PASOK, ends up with a respectable result, which analysts put at over 12% of the vote. Androulakis is open to negotiations with both New Democracy and SYRIZA and has not stated a preference.

A double national election is almost a certainty, because each will be run under a different electoral system, with the second round taking place under a law giving the winner a 30-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament. A Parliament with no overall single-party majority after the second election is also a distinct possibility.

After the first election, the leader of the largest party will have three days to form a government or return the mandate if they fail to do so; in that case, the second-largest party will be given the mandate and, in case of failure, the third. If all three fail at the task, or if the government fails in a confidence vote, a new election will be called.

Mitsotakis has said that he would not exercise the mandate and that he sees the first election as a springboard for a decisive victory in the second. But, analysts believe that if the result does not match his expectations, Mitsotakis might be forced to negotiate with Androulakis, seen at this stage as the only possible partner.

Tsipras also might try his hand at a coalition if SYRIZA ends up within 2 percentage points of New Democracy, as first place is currently seen as highly unlikely. But this gambit would depend on finding willing partners.

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