Nikolaos Stelgias

Nikolaos Stelgias

Mitsotakis'one-party government in danger

“The intensification of economic problems, the pandemic effects, and the tension in the Greek-Turkish relations have shifted the public’s trust in the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis.”

The intensification of economic problems, the pandemic effects, and the tension in the Greek-Turkish relations have shifted the public’s trust in the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis. According to the latest surveys and polls in Greece, which are being carried out only a few months before the planned parliamentary elections, the ruling conservative party’s (New Democracy) ratings are on the decline. At the same time, the gap between the country's two largest parties is closing.

Although the daily news is making frequent mentions to the scenario of early elections, Prime Minister Mitsotakis has clearly closed the door to such a possibility and has put forth the argument that in these turbulent times the country needs a strong, self-reliant government. To prove his argument, Mitsotakis often cites the increasing tensions in the Greek-Turkish relations. The talks for early elections find the Greek analysts and columnists split between those who share Mitsotakis’ views and those who fault the Prime Minister of turning a deaf ear to the people’s will.

The rates of the ND recede

The latest surveys in Greece show a small but noticeable drop in the ruling party's share of the vote. The ND, which came to power about three years ago with a remarkable 39% of the vote, is now anchored in the 29-31% band. To put it simply, in the last three years the party has lost a quarter of the voters.

According to the survey of the “Alco”, the ND is currently first in the ranking of Greek political parties with a percentage of 30.2%. The ND is followed by the centre-left, Syriza, with 21.7%. After its recent change of leadership, Greece’s third largest party, Pasok-Kinal has increased its percentage to 12.4%.

According to the survey, the remaining political parties that are expected to score above the 3% electoral threshold and enter the new parliament are the Communist Party of Greece (KKE, left) with 5.2%, Hellenic Solution (far right, nationalist) with 5% and MerA25 (left) with 3%.

Last week’s “MRB” survey is also offering similar results. According to the poll, the ND is in first place in the voting intention, receiving 29.3%, followed by SYRIZA with 22.1%. In third place with a double-digit percentage is Pasok - Kinal (12.2%), in fourth place is the KKE (4.7%), in fifth place is the Hellenic Solution (4.5%) and in sixth place is Mera25 (3.1%).

Worrying messages for Mitsotakis

In addition to the intention of vote, the “Alco” survey has also measured the Greek voter’s disappointment with the government’s work and has ranked all the major issues which Greek society is currently facing.

29% of Greeks say that the course of the economic crisis with guide their vote in the next elections. 22% say they will vote according to ideological preferences. 19% of Greeks say that their personal financial situation will decide their vote in the upcoming elections. 15% focus on the effectiveness of the government and only 6% of Greeks are attaching great importance to the profile of political leaders.

According to the same survey, about one in two citizens has a negative opinion of the government's strategy on foreign policy, immigration, and education. Mitsotakis' government scores even lower in the fields of employment and crime prevention. However, the bulk of the voters seem to approve of the Prime Minister’s choices in the field of national defence with only three out of ten citizens disagreeing with Mitsotakis' policy. 

To put it short, the latest surveys show that Mitsotakis' choices in various fields of governance have resulted in the electoral decline of the party that has been single-handily ruling Greece since mid-2019. The government’s policies towards the problems in the economy and the turbulences in the Greek-Turkish relations are a source of great concern for Greek public opinion.

As the percentage of the ND falls, the percentages of two opposition parties show a small but remarkable increase. Pasok, the traditional party of the Greek centre-left, presents signs of recovery after spending many years in decline. The party hopes that after the elections, it will play a decisive role in the effort to form a new government.

Like PASOK, the far-right party “Hellenic Solution” benefits from the government's electoral decline and hopes to take part in a future coalition government.

Mitsotakis’ response to the decline

Faced with the decline in his party's ratings and with the opposition calling for early elections, Prime Minister Mitsotakis is sending out two important messages. First, he is firmly ascertaining that elections will be held in 2023. Second, he is insisting that Greece needs a strong one-party government.

"Elections will be held at the end of the four-year term," the Prime Minister reiterated, "for reasons of political order and stability". In a new interview with the pro-government press, Mitsotakis sent the message that "I understand why scenarios of early elections may be stirred up, but I assure you that I am not looking for some (positive) poll (for deciding for the elections)."

"For us, the appropriate electoral system is that of enhanced proportional representation'' stated Mitsotakis, adding that the country needs above all the stability of a one-party government.

To support the above, Mitsotakis cited the problems his country faces with Turkey stating that: "Think about Evros for a moment and what we should do (there). There are parties which declare that they don't want the leader of the first party as prime minister. This is wrong. The leader of the first party should be the prime minister (so they may address problems such as the refugee issue in Evros)."

*Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece on the news website 'Duvar". 

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