by Sarantis Michalopoulos
The recent train tragedy, which cost the lives of 57 people, has had several political repercussions for the ruling conservative New Democracy party (EPP), as new polls suggest that it is now in a neck-and-neck race with leftist Syriza party ahead of the upcoming national elections.
Four new polls confirmed New Democracy’s dip in popularity. Before the accident, the difference between the two was, on average, 6-7% and New Democracy was eyeing a single-party government.
In the new polls, particularly those provided by MRB and PRORATA, the difference between New Democracy and Syriza is at the limit of statistical error, below 3%.
Third in all polls, ranks the socialists (Pasok), who are expected to play the kingmaker’s role.
The elections, most likely to take place in May, will be held based on a new electoral law, which makes a coalition government almost inevitable.
The first round of the elections will be held with a proportional system, and in the second round, a month later, a coalition of parties will need approximately 37-38% of the vote to be able to form a government.
The socialists, who have not opened their cards yet, have strongly criticised Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – especially regarding the wiretapping scandal and the rule of law– and their leader Nikos Androulakis has stated New Democracy should be in the opposition.
However, he has not openly backed a progressive coalition with the Syriza party.
S&D MEP Udo Bullmann recently told EURACTIV that he “trusts” Pasok will make the “right choices”.
“As a social democrat from Germany and the S&D, I respect the decisions of our sister parties. But I have to say that I have full trust in our partners and in our party family that they will make the right choices against the backdrop of the political situation in their country,” he said.
Bullmann has not hidden his opinion on the matter.
In the past, he openly criticised the “Grand Coalition” with the EPP and backed “building progressive majorities wherever it is possible”.
In an interview with EURACTIV in August 2022, in the aftermath of the wiretapping scandal, Iratxe Garcia, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said:
“It is not my role to get into internal politics or to anticipate scenarios after national elections. What is clear for the progressive European family is that Greece needs a political change led by the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)”.
*first published in: Euractiv.com