Racing to woo the undecided voters

Both major parties hoping the floating vote will break their way; socialists mull coalition role

Racing to woo the undecided voters

Both major Greek parties, the ruling center-right New Democracy and left-wing SYRIZA, are targeting the more than 10% of voters who, according to recent opinion polls, are at present undecided who to vote for.

New Democracy is focusing on those voters who deserted the party in the wake of the February 28 rail disaster that resulted in 57 deaths, hoping that they will be convinced to come back and vote for the center-right again.

They are also watching closely for those at the right-wing of the socialist PASOK party who may have been disaffected by the pronouncement of its leader, Nikos Androulakis, that he would accept neither Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nor SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras at the head of a likely coalition government.

There are two views within New Democracy concerning the floating voters: some believe that the emotional impact of the rail disaster will recede and that they will weigh what the two parties have to offer them and, according to this view, will prefer New Democracy.

Others, however, are not so certain that this is feasible, at least ahead of the May 21 election. Their reasoning is that, in 2019, many centrists and even socialists trusted Mitsotakis to fulfill his promises to reform the sluggish administration and make it efficient. And while progress has been made in some areas, such as the digitalization of many services offered to the public, the rail crash proved that large swaths of the state remain inefficient and hopelessly mired in the past, with the government doing little to improve them.

SYRIZA officials, naturally, believe this second scenario of continued disaffection will prevail. They recognize that SYRIZA itself has not increased its support since the rail crash, but hope that a groundswell of opposition to the government will materialize in the election.

The odds of forming a coalition government will also be affected by how resilient the socialists will be in the face of the inevitable polarization ahead of the elections that tends to favor the bigger parties.

A large exodus of PASOK voters to New Democracy may lead the socialists below the 10% threshold which Androulakis himself has mentioned as enabling him to negotiate a coalition from a strong position. Ideally, he would like to avoid a second election altogether.

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