28th Mar 2023

International spotlight on Greek elections

  • Polls close at 6pm CET - first exit polls will be released soon afterwards (Photo: YoungJ523)

Europe is in wait-and-see mode as Greeks head to the ballot boxes for a vote that is set to determine the future of their country in the eurozone.

At stake on Sunday (17 June) is whether Greeks believe they will have to carry on enduring austerity measures in return for EU-IMF cash or whether there is a chance to fundamentally rewrite the rules.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Parties espousing either side of the argument were almost neck-and-neck when official polls stopped at the beginning of June.

The leading centre-right New Democracy party, headed by Antonis Samaras, says it will seek concessions on the tough conditions attached to the latest €130m bailout - with Greek society already teetering under the social welfare and wage cuts and rising unemployment - but will essentially stick with the programme demanded by Greece's creditors.

But it is radical left party Syriza that has attracted much of the attention both inside and outside Greece. Its leader Alexis Tsipras has promised to scrap the programme entirely. He says he will replace it with a national plan to achieve a balanced budget that would focus on raising taxes, rather than cuts.

Greece's euro partners regard Tsipras with alarm. They say Athens must honour its previous commitments otherwise the money will stop flowing. This would push Greece into default and probable exit of the single currency.

Greeks went to the polls just six weeks ago. But the results proved inconclusive when no governing coalition could be formed. It was the date that the rest of the Europe work up to the Syriza party, which, speaking to austerity-weary Greeks, scooped second place with 16.8 percent of the vote.

Since then EU leaders have been obliquely warning Greeks about the potential consequences of their vote on Sunday. They say they want Greece to remain in the euro, but that it cannot be at any price.

Tsipras, for his part, has been calling his euro partners' bluff. He has regularly told supporters that the eurozone will not let Greece go because the political, social and economic consequences would be too high.

The uncertainty has been making markets more jumpy than ever and has contributed to driving up borrowing costs in Spain and Italy. Meanwhile banks in Greece are reporting a steady withdrawal of millions of euros in savings every day.

Although politicians outside Greece are avoiding overt statements on Sunday's election, plans are being made for the worst case scenario. Member states have been discussing the extent to which they can impose capital controls and border checks should Greece leave the eurozone.

Central banks around the world have been preparing for shock market reaction to the election outcome by ensuring liquidity.

The polls open at 6am Brussels time and close 12 hours later. The first exit polls are expected to be released soon after voting finishes.

Euro fears rise as Greeks withdraw money from banks

Greeks have withdrawn billions of euros from their banks in recent days, with the country's president warning of "panic" at the prospect of the country leaving the eurozone. Markets are equally jittery, pushing Spain closer to a bail-out.


Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity

From the perspective of international relations, the EU is a rare bird indeed. Theoretically speaking it cannot even exist. The charter of the United Nations, which underlies the current system of global governance, distinguishes between states and organisations of states.


Turkey's election — the Erdoğan vs Kılıçdaroğlu showdown

Turkey goes to the polls in May for both a new parliament and new president, after incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided against a post-earthquake postponement. The parliamentary outcome is easy to predict — the presidential one less so.

Latest News

  1. Biden's 'democracy summit' poses questions for EU identity
  2. Finnish elections and Hungary's Nato vote in focus This WEEK
  3. EU's new critical raw materials act could be a recipe for conflict
  4. Okay, alright, AI might be useful after all
  5. Von der Leyen pledges to help return Ukrainian children
  6. EU leaders agree 1m artillery shells for Ukraine
  7. Polish abortion rights activist vows to appeal case
  8. How German business interests have shaped EU climate agenda

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality
  5. Promote UkraineInvitation to the National Demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine on 25.02.2023
  6. Azerbaijan Embassy9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us