SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 12 April 2024, Friday |

Greeks vote in repeat election, likely to return conservatives to office

Greeks went to the polls on Sunday for the second time in less than a month to elect a new parliament, with former Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservatives set to win a second term.

The election is being held in the shadow of a migrant shipwreck on June 14 off the coast of southern Greece, which is thought to have killed hundreds of people. It was one of the biggest natural catastrophes in recent years, and it exposed the parties’ differences on migration.

 

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party won an election on May 21, 20 points clear of the leftist Syriza party that ruled Greece from 2015 to 2019.

But it fell just short of the outright majority needed to rule without forming a coalition, prompting the second vote under different rules that make it easier for the winning party to secure a majority in the 300-seat parliament.

Opinion polls in recent days have shown New Democracy with more than 40% percent of the vote, with Syriza headed by Alexis Tsipras trailing at about 20%.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) across Greece and will close 12 hours later, with results expected by around 1700 GMT.

The shipwreck disaster sidelined other issues in the run-up to the election, including a cost of living crisis, and a deadly rail crash in February that exposed shortcomings on that public transport system.

Rescuers found 104 survivors but up to 750 people were thought to have been packed on the ramshackle vessel that had sailed from Libya and was heading to Italy. The boat had been shadowed by the Greek coast guard before it sank: the coast guard has said that the occupants refused all offers of help.

Mitsotakis, whose administration has taken a hard stance on migration, said “wretched traffickers” were to blame for the disaster and praised the coast guard for rescuing people.

Tsipras has questioned why the coast guard did not intervene earlier. Under the previous Syriza administration, more than one million refugees and migrants reached Greek islands as they tried to come to Europe in 2015 and 2016.

    Source:
  • Reuters