Greece’s Conservatives Lead Election Polls
A poll showed the conservative New Democracy about nine points ahead with over 40 percent of the vote
Greeks go to the polls next Sunday in a snap election viewed as a race between incumbent leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and opposition conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The conservatives are expected to ride a wave of anger over continuing austerity measures to seize power from Syriza.
Syriza stormed to power in 2015 on the back of a popular backlash against painful economic reforms in the crisis-hit country.
But shortly after gaining power on an anti-austerity platform, Tsipras was forced to relent to a new unpopular bailout plan, and more austerity, to stave off bankruptcy.
“Greece is leaving behind catastrophic austerity. It is leaving behind the fear and the autocracy. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Sipras had said in a speech.
Analysts say his U-turn ultimately cost him his voters who felt he reneged on his promises.
All polls point to a victory for Mitsotakis, 51, an ex-venture capitalist who assumed the helm of New Democracy in early 2016.
He has focused his campaign on promises to ease Greek’s pain by cutting taxes and unblocking privatizations.
“Mr. Tsipras has overtaxed the middle class. So what I’m proposing is simple: return some of the money back to people’s pockets. They have taken more money out of people’s pockets than was necessary,” Mitsotakis said.
A decision to resolve a decades-old dispute with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over its name, hailed by the international community, ired many Greeks and may have also cost Tsipras some votes.
Mitsotakis opposed the North Macedonia name deal but he said they would respect the agreement, although it retained the right to block the EU accession process.
“New Democracy had no objection to Skopje entering NATO, but it did and does object to Skopje entering NATO by (Greece) ceding Macedonian identity, nationality, and language, that is our disagreement, and that is why we are voting against the accession protocol,” Mitsotakis said.
Mitsotakis comes from one of Greece’s most influential political families.
He served as administrative reform minister in a 2013 conservative government.
A poll showed the conservative New Democracy about nine points ahead with over 40 percent of the vote.