Greek election: Centre-right Mitsotakis hails big win but wants majorityon May 21, 2023 at 9:32 pm

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Centre-right Kyriakos Mitsotakis falls just short of outright victory and plans for a second round.

Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives at the party's headquarters, after the general election, in Athens, Greece, May 21, 2023Image source, Reuters

Greece’s conservative New Democracy are set to win Sunday’s elections but are well short of the majority for an outright victory, an initial exit poll suggests.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s party is heading for 36-40% of the vote.

Predecessor Alexis Tsipras’s centre-left Syriza is well behind on 25-29%.

If neither party can form a coalition then Greek voters will return to vote in a second round in early July.

The joint exit poll, by six polling agencies, was greeted with cheers at New Democracy headquarters in Athens.

However, experts have warned it may prove unreliable because many voters refused to reveal which party they had backed.

One of the big winners of the election appeared to be Syriza’s socialist rival Pasok, which was predicted to attract 9.5-12.5% of the vote.

That would make the party a potential kingmaker in coalition talks with both the centre right and Syriza in the coming days.

Mr Mitsotakis’s centre right has governed Greece for the past four years, and can boast that the country’s growth last year was close to 6%.

However, the election campaign was overshadowed by a rail tragedy in February that killed 57 people, many of them students.

Opposition parties highlighted the disaster as a symptom of a dysfunctional state that has been pared down to the bone after years of economic crisis and under-investment.

Four years ago winning 40% of the vote would have been enough to secure a majority in Greece’s 300-seat parliament.

Now it requires more than 45%, because the winning party is no longer entitled to a 50-seat bonus in the first round, making a second round more likely.

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