Greek election up for grabs

Four public opinion surveys taken among Greek voters uncovered a virtual deadlock for snap elections scheduled on Sunday.

Polls indicate former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist Syriza and Vangelis Meimarakis’ conservative New Democracy, the two leading political parties in Greece, in a statistical tie with neither party earning more than the 38% needed to inaugurate a clear ruling majority in the Hellenic Parliament.

One poll, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, disclosed each party garnering only 28% each; two others, conducted by Kapa Research and Alco gave a slight edge to Syriza.  A fourth poll by Metron Analysis gave a nano scale advantage to conservative New Democracy.

“The parties are running neck and neck. The lead each party gets in polls is small and doesn’t tell much,” said STR political consultant, John Loulis.

Minority parties, the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn, communist KKE, socialist PASOK and centrist party To Potami, all earned less than 8.3%.

Tethered to the elections is the bailout deal Tsipras negotiated with the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July.  Under heavy pressure from international creditors, Tsipras agreed to rigid austerity conditions to avoid a Greek collapse despite campaigning against surrendering to lenders’ demands prior to elections in January 2015.

Tsipras resigned in August and called a snap election to re-build a majority, giving him room to govern.

Greece’s problems are numerous and varied.

Close to 20% of Greek voters are either undecided or plan not to vote.

The three-year bailout plan agreed upon calls for massive austerity measures:  Tax increases, steep budget cuts and an extensive reconditioning of economic policy.  Austerity has proved to drive voters away and it may hurt Tsipras’ chances to regain the prime-ministership.

Since these inflexible bailout perimeters cannot be removed, appealing to independents is Tsipras’ best chance to return as prime minister.  New Democracy looms, but a coalition government, something Tsipras had hoped to avoid, may emerge.

 

[Reuters] [Photo courtesy o.canada.com]