Wednesday

16th Jun 2021

Greek socialists win snap general election

  • Mr Karamanlis' poor handling of a series of natural disasters played a strong role in his election loss (Photo: European Commission)

Greece's socialists have won a strong parliamentary majority over the governing conservatives, according to exit polls from Sunday's (4 October) general election in the country.

The centre-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or Pasok, of leader George Papandreou, is leading according to the polls, with 43 percent of the vote, giving the party 159 seats in the 300-seat chamber.

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

The centre-right New Democracy of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which had called a snap election only two years after his 2007 election win, had hoped to give a boost to his faltering government with its one-seat majority.

His gamble did not pay off, however, with his conservatives gaining the support of just 34 percent of voters, translating into 94 seats.

"We stand here united before the great responsibility which we undertake," Mr Papandreou told thousands of his supporters at a rally in Athens after the results became clear.

"I know very well the great potential of this country. Potential that is being drowned by corruption, favouritism, lawlessness and waste. Potential that we will set free," he said.

Mr Karamanlis' party had been hit by a series of corruption scandals, the economic crisis and was widely viewed as having badly handled a series of natural disasters.

Moreover, the election offered a clear choice between Pasok and New Democracy.

The former promised a €3 billion stimulus package that would include above-inflation wage and pension increases, higher taxes for the wealthy and a review of the privatisation of flag carrier Olympic Airlines and the sale of the government's stake in OTE, the telecoms firm.

Meanwhile New Democracy campaigned on promises of wage and pension freezes for government employees and further austerity and cutting of social programmes in order to tackle the country's deficit, already twice the European Union's allowed maximum of three percent of GDP.

Mr Papandreou, whose father and grandfather had both been prime minister, was born in the United States while the country was under military rule, and has been mocked for the errors in his spoken Greek.

Despite the convincing victory, recent polls have shown that as many as nine out of 10 Greeks do not trust either party, and abstentions were also high amongst the young, who analysts worry are turning their back on parliamentary politics.

Last December, the country was rocked by violent youth riots that lasted three weeks in what was described at the time as the worst unrest to hit Greece since the restoration of democracy in 1974.

The far-left Syriza coalition saw a decline in its support from five percent in 2007, giving it 14 seats, to 4.4 percent and 12 seats on Sunday.

The Communists remain the third largest party in the assembly, but they too saw a drop since the last election, clocking in at 7.3 percent and 20 seats, down from 8.2 percent and 22 seats.

The far-right however sharply increased their support, with the Popular Orthodox Rally (Laos) climbing from 3.8 percent and ten seats 5.5 percent and 15 members in the house.

The Ecological Greens, who had said ahead of the election that they were willing to work with either the socialists or the conservatives did not manage to achieve the surge in backing they had been hoping for and failed to make it into the parliament, winning 2.4 percent, just shy of Greek democracy's three-percent threshold.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

News in Brief

  1. BBC and others boycott Belarus press circus
  2. Report: EU and US to unveil aircraft subsidy truce
  3. Putin refuses to guarantee Navalny will survive jail
  4. Erdoğan agrees to pull out mercenaries from Libya
  5. EU starts sale of first bonds for Covid-19 recovery fund
  6. Germans told not to 'storm pharmacies' for Covid pass
  7. Indonesia warns Covid-19 wave may not peak until July
  8. WTO chief: 'drop trade barriers on Covid-19 treatments'

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. China officially joins Russia as a danger to Nato
  2. German Greens face reality check amid CDU gains
  3. EU Parliament wants Europe to take lead on sea-rescues
  4. MEPs urged to end gas-funding, fix cross-border projects rules
  5. Biden in Brussels - what's in the 'in-tray'?
  6. Yemen foreign minister to EU: to stop the war, talk to Iran
  7. Brexit grumbles overshadow UK summit
  8. Former French PM to work for Russian oil firm

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us