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Mar 11, 2023
Greek Train Crash Raises Doubts About Mitsotakis’s Election Push
(Bloomberg) -- The worst rail accident in Greece’s history is starting to hurt Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as he gears up for a general election this year.
Citizens took to the streets last week in the biggest protest in a decade after a devastating train crash on the line from Athens to Thessaloniki killed 57 people. A first poll since the accident hints at a possible dent in Mitsotakis’s support among voters with questions raised over the state’s ability to run and upgrade the rail network.
The government has said that the elections will take place in spring but a reported plan to hold the ballot on April 9 has been delayed following the deadly accident. The country won’t hold an election before Easter Sunday, which falls a week later for the orthodox church on April 16, a person familiar with the matter said. The deadline for the ballot to take place is July.
Read More: Greece’s Deadly Train Crash Follows Long Delay in Critical Fixes
At a cabinet meeting held this week to discuss the tragedy, Mitsotakis said that the government still aims to pass about 10 laws before the general election, the person said. That ends any scenario for a ballot anytime soon.
The train tragedy is also adding to the uncertainty over the outcome of the elections. Mitsotakis’s New Democracy party had a consistent lead of around seven percentage points before the train crash. The only poll published since the accident showed his advantage cut to around 4.5 percentage points.
“Public confidence in the government has been dealt a severe blow, as shown in the first poll following the tragic accident. No one would have expected that, after effectively managing successive crises since 2020 Mitsotakis’ credibility would now greatly depend upon his ability to show that his government can reverse decades-old state failures and omissions on the functioning of the railways,” said George Pagoulatos, director of the Athens-based Eliamep think tank
While support for Mitsotakis seems to be dented, the main opposition parties aren’t gaining either. The poll showed support falling slightly for Syriza and the socialist Pasok while smaller parties rose in voting intentions.
Read More: Greece Aims to Restart Railways by Late March After Fatal Crash
Regardless of when the vote happens, Greece’s proportional representation system will make it hard for a single party to form a government straight away. That will most likely mean a second ballot a month later, under a semi-proportional system that makes it easier to form a majority.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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