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Greece heads to new election after conservatives fail to secure majority despite landslide victory

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ATHENS, Greece – Greece is heading for a new general election, two days after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ centre-right New Democracy party won a landslide victory in the national vote but failed to win a majority in parliament.

After the main opposition party formally received – and summarily rejected – an invitation to try and form the country’s next government, a power-sharing deal appears mathematically out of reach. Mitsotakis refused to seek a coalition, opting instead for a second election expected on 25 June. This would introduce a change in the electoral system that favors the winning party and potentially give it an outright victory.

Mitsotakis, 55, won just over 40% of the vote on Sunday, defeating his main rival by 20 points. He has promised to continue pro-business reforms, tougher policies to combat illegal migration and higher defense spending as Greece recovers from a major financial crisis in the last decade.

Under Greece’s constitution, the first three parties are given up to three days to try and form a government before parliament is dissolved and a new election is called. The leftist Syriza party, led by former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, suffered a major defeat in Sunday’s elections after President Katerina Sakellaropoulou rejected Tuesday’s mandate to form a government. He said, ‘I have no reason to hide that the election result is a painful shock for us. Unexpected and painful,” Tsipras told reporters after the meeting. The 48-year-old opposition leader now faces a challenge from the third-place centre-left PSOK party, which once dominated Greek politics but saw its popular support decline during the financial crisis and a series of painful international bailouts. .

Tsipras said he was not considering stepping down, and promised to fight to prevent the dominance of conservatives.

“If these (current) results are repeated, imagine an all-powerful, non-accountable ruler-prime minister,” he told reporters outside the president’s official residence.

“In its first four years in power, this government demonstrated that it has no respect for the rule of law, democracy or political pluralism…so the bigger picture is to stop an unclear, unaccountable, authoritarian and arrogant government Needed. “

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition Syriza party, leaves the presidential palace after meeting with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, to receive the mandate to form a coalition government, at the presidential palace in Athens, Greece, Tuesday, May 23, 2023. . Greece’s opposition leader Alexis Tsipras received an invitation – and summarily rejected – on Tuesday to form the country’s next government, two days after general elections left parliament with no majority and widely expected to form a new government next month. Hoping to trigger a vote. Credit: AP/Petros Giannakouris

Under an official allocation announced on Tuesday, New Democracy won 146 seats in the 300-member parliament, five short of a majority. Syriza had 71, followed by PSOK with 41, the Greek Communist Party with 26 and the nationalist Hellenic Solution with 16. The Pasok leader, Nikos Androlakis, will receive a third and final invitation to formally try and form a government later on Tuesday. But he cannot put forward a viable proposal without the support of the first or second party, which has already been rejected. Sunday’s election was held under the proportional representation system implemented for the first time in more than three decades. The next ballot will see election rules revert to a pro-majority system, with the winning party awarded a so-called electoral bonus of up to 50 seats. The date of the next election will depend on a number of procedural issues, the most important of which is the dissolution of the Assembly and the newly-elected Parliament.