The Greek prime minister’s conservative party is leading in a major election to win an absolute majority

ATHENS, Greece – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose conservative party won a landslide election but lacks enough parliamentary seats to form a government, said late Sunday he would seek a second election to consolidate his victory without the need for a coalition partner.

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party won by 20 percentage points over its main rival, the left-wing Syriza party, with nearly 90% of the vote. But due to the current proportional representation system, his 40% of the vote was still not enough to secure a majority of the 300 seats in parliament, meaning he would either have to seek a coalition partner from a smaller party or go to a party. second elections.

“From tomorrow I will follow all constitutional procedures, but maintaining my firm view that the mathematics of proportional representation is like partisan horse-trading and leads to deadlock,” Mitsotakis said. “Undoubtedly, the political earthquake that happened today calls us all to speed up the process of the final solution of the government, so that our country has an experienced hand at the helm as soon as possible.”

The new vote, likely in late June or early July, will be held under a new electoral law that gives bonus seats to the winning party, making it easier for it to form a government of its own.

With nearly two-thirds of the vote counted, former prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s left-wing opposition party is trailing with 20% of the vote, while Mitsotakis’s New Democracy party has 40%.

Sunday’s election was Greece’s first since its economy ceased to be under strict scrutiny by international lenders that bailed out the country during its nearly decade-long financial crisis. Tsipras, 48, served as prime minister during the most tumultuous years of the crisis and has struggled to regain the broad support he enjoyed when he swept to power in 2015 on a promise to reverse bailout-imposed austerity measures.

THIS IS AN ADVISORY UPDATE. An earlier AP story follows below.

ATHENS, Greece – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his conservative party led Greece’s election by a wide margin on Sunday, according to partial official results. But the new electoral law means he will struggle to form a government without seeking coalition partners, and a second election is likely.

Partial results from 40 percent of polling stations counted showed Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party with 41 percent of the vote, while his main rival Alexis Tsipras and the leftist Syriza party trailed with 20 percent. If the full results are confirmed, Sunday’s showing will be a major disappointment for Syriza and a better-than-expected performance for New Democracy.

Even with partial results, New Democracy was celebrating its strong performance.

“(Exit polls) show a clear victory for New Democracy and a clear renewal of the mandate to continue the fundamental changes that Greek society seeks,” government spokesman Akis Skertsos said.

Sunday’s election is Greece’s first since its economy ceased to be tightly controlled by international lenders that bailed out the country during its nearly decade-long financial crisis.

Tsipras, 48, served as prime minister during the most tumultuous years of the crisis and has struggled to regain the broad support he enjoyed when he came to power in 2015, pledging to reverse the austerity measures imposed by the bailout.

Mitsotakis, a 55-year-old Harvard-educated former bank executive, won the 2019 election on a promise of business-oriented reforms and has pledged to continue cutting taxes, increase investment and boost middle-class employment.

But the new electoral law on proportional representation makes it difficult for any party to get an absolute majority in the 300-member parliament to form a government on its own, meaning Mitsotakis will likely have to look for a coalition partner.

However, New Democracy has indicated that it would prefer to achieve a clear victory in the second election and be able to govern on its own.

“We have said that we want direct governance because that will ensure stability and a way forward. So we have the right to ask that of the Greek people in the next election,” Public Order Minister Takis Theodorikakos said on Skai television shortly after the polls closed on Sunday evening.

If a second election is held, likely in late June or early July, the law will change again, moving to a system that rewards the leading party with bonus seats and makes it easier for it to win a parliamentary majority.

In the run-up to the elections, Mitsotakis was steadily ahead in opinion polls. But his popularity took a hit after February. 28 rail disaster that killed 57 people after a long-distance passenger train accidentally stopped on the same track as an oncoming freight train. The train stations were later found to be poorly staffed and the security infrastructure broken and outdated.

The government has also been hit by a surveillance scandal in which journalists and prominent Greek politicians discovered spyware on their phones. The revelations deepened mistrust among the country’s political parties at a time when consensus may be sorely needed.

Greece’s once-dominant Pasok party is likely to find itself at the center of coalition talks. After beating Syriza during Greece’s 2009-2018 financial crisis, exit polls showed the socialist party picking up around 35 seats in parliament. Its leader, Nikos Androulakis, 44, has been at the center of a wiretapping scandal in which his phone was targeted for surveillance.

But Androulakis’ poor relationship with Mitsotakis, whom he accuses of covering up the wiretapping scandal, means a deal with the conservatives will be difficult. His relationship with Tsipras is also strained, accusing him of poaching Pasok voters.

In power since 2019, Mitsotakis has delivered unexpectedly high growth, a sharp drop in unemployment and a country that has returned to investment grade in the global bond market for the first time since it lost access to the market in 2010 at its inception. financial crisis.

The debts of the International Monetary Fund were paid off early. European governments and the IMF provided $300 billion in emergency loans to the Greek economy between 2010 and 2018 to prevent the eurozone member from defaulting. In return, they demanded punishing cost-cutting measures and reforms that shrunk the country’s economy by a quarter.


Theodora Tongas, Demetris Nellas and Nicholas Paphitis contributed to this report.

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