With just two days to go before the general elections in Greece, former right-wing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his main left-wing rival, Alexis Tsipras, wrapped up their second campaign in five weeks on Friday with a final address to their troops.
The leader of the New Democracy (ND) conservatives is due to speak in the evening on the Syntagma esplanade, below Parliament, to convince voters to grant him the absolute majority he covets to form “a strong and stable government”.
At the same time, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras will hold a final rally in Thessaloniki, the country’s second largest city (north).
On Saturday, on the eve of the second election after the one held on May 21, no political demonstrations or publication of polls are allowed.
“On Sunday evening, the country will have a stable government with a strong New Democracy at its head”, Kyriakos Mitsotakis had already assured us at an earlier rally.
- Large victory –
Speaking to his troops in Athens on Thursday evening, the pugnacious Alexis Tsipras urged voters to give more votes to Syriza so that his opponent “doesn’t get a blank cheque on Monday”.
On May 21, Kyriakos Mitsotakis won a landslide victory with 40.8% of the vote. Twice as many as former radical-left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (2015-2019).
But this result only secured him 146 of the 300 seats in Parliament. He needed 151 to form a government without having to forge an alliance.
Coming from a large family of political leaders, the 55-year-old leader ruled out forming a coalition and called for new elections.
The latest polls give him between 38.5% and 45% of voting intentions.
For Syriza, which suffered a stinging setback on May 21 with 20.07% of the vote, a drop of 11.5 points compared to 2019, the decline could become even more pronounced.
Forecasts put it at between 16.8% and 20%, followed by the socialist Pasok-Kinal (11% to 12%).
To secure an absolute majority, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has been replaced by an interim Prime Minister pending Sunday’s elections, is betting on a different voting system, which this time gives the winning party a bonus of up to 50 seats.
Despite these favourable polls, Kyriakos Mitsotakis assured the private channel Skai on Friday that “under no circumstances” was he taking “the outcome of the vote for granted”.
Over the past few days, the former Harvard student has sought to remobilize crowds who, out of weariness, might be tempted not to go to the polling stations.
“I appeal to all citizens to exercise their right to vote again,” he hammered on Skai.
Another potential concern for the Conservative camp is the crumbling of the far-right vote, where two or three small parties could send MPs over the 3% threshold.
However, the number of parties represented in parliament will arithmetically have an impact on the number of seats the ND will win.
- Spartans –
Among the smaller parties likely to complicate Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ task is “Spartans”, backed by a former top official of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, Ilias Kassidiaris, who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence.
The former Golden Dawn spokesman had been banned from taking part in the elections by the Supreme Court, but continued to carry out political activities from his cell.
The election campaign was also overshadowed by the sinking of a migrant boat off Pylos in the Peloponnese on June 14, one of the worst migratory tragedies in the Mediterranean.
The exact circumstances surrounding the sinking of a trawler with up to 750 people on board, according to some survivors, have raised many questions.
The Greek coastguard, in particular, has been criticized for its delay in intervening when the boat was dilapidated and overloaded.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has led a controversial migration policy over the past four years marked by accusations, always denied, of refoulements to Turkey, has assured the support of the majority of the population for a “fair but strict” asylum policy.