As speculation about early elections peaks chiefly due to dissent within leftist SYRIZA over creditors’ demands for new austerity measures, the conservative opposition New Democracy appears to be looking toward new alignments with centrist parties.
ND’s leader Vangelis Meimarakis spurred the speculation with a newspaper interview over the weekend in which he proposed a change to Greece’s electoral law with the introduction of more demanding criteria for the 50-seat bonus awarded to the winning party.
Meimarakis proposed that the current system, known as “reinforced" proportional representation be kept in place but that the 50-seat bonus only be awarded in the event that the wining party secures a very high proportion of the vote – at least 40 percent. In the event that the proportion is closer to 30 percent, the winning party should be granted only a portion of the bonus with the remainder being distributed to other parties entering Parliament, depending on their share of the vote, he said.
As a rule, a change to the electoral law comes into the effect with the next Parliament. The only way for it to apply immediately is if it is approved by a two-thirds majority in the House which ND is far from commanding.
Aides close to Meimarakis said on Monday that the idea has not been discussed with other parties. But, with growing expectations of early elections, Meimarakis’s proposal was widely interpreted as an initial overture to centrist political forces who have favored changes to the 50-seat bonus law.
PASOK, which has lobbied for the abolition of the 50-seat bonus, did not comment on Monday.