Greece goes to the polls for the second time this year


Greek voters will go to the polls to elect a new government for the second time this year. The first time was on 25th January when the left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left, better known as Syriza won but fell short of an overall majority. They ended up sealing a deal with the right-wing Eurosceptic Independent Greeks (ANEL).

The new Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras vowed that Syriza would fight the austerity package being forced upon the country by the so called troika. When it was clear that the country was close to a financial default Tsipras took the country to a referendum to find out if the people wanted a bailout on strong austerity terms; 61.31% said no they were not prepared to accept the bailout terms.

Subsequently the Tsipras government agreed to the bailout terms and the party started to fall apart. Syriza split with about 25 parliamentarians joining former Minister of Energy, Panagiotis Lafazanis into a new left-wing radical Eurosceptic party called Popular Unity (LE). Tsipras was finding it increasingly difficult to push through the reforms he was obliged to pass under the bailout terms so he called the general election for 20th September.

In the January poll the left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) won 99 seats and was awarded the additional 50 seats that are given to the largest party after the election.

The centre-right New Democracy (ND) took 76 seats with the far-right Golden Dawn (XA) winning 17 seats. The River (Potami) a centre-left party took 17 seats and the Communist Party of Greece took 15 seats.

The right-wing Eurosceptic Independent Greeks (ANEL) won 13 seats as did the centre-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement-Democratic Alignment (PASOK-DP).

The latest opinion polls suggest that Syriza is neck and neck with New Democracy on around 31% to 32% each. One or two polls put Syriza ahead, but clearly it is going to be very close and will probably be decided by a low turnout and which party is best able to mobilise its supporters.

There are 9,836,997 eligible voters who will elect 300 members of the Hellenic Parliament (50 of these seats are awarded to the largest party so in reality they are electing 250 seats). Voting is supposed to be compulsory (but only 63.62% voted in January) and polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

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