Voting begins in Greece for Europarliament, local gov't elections

Sunday, 26 May 2019 12:42
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Greek voters head to the ballot boxes on Sunday for the European Parliament election as well as the first round of municipal and regional government polls, the first time since September 2015 when elections have been held in the thrice bailed-out country.

Besides the obvious importance of the specific races, Sunday's result is directly linked to a general election, as the poll-trailing Tsipras government must declare the latter by no later than mid October 2019. However, as center-right New Democracy party is riding high in the polls, and with a slim Parliament majority dependent on a handful of independent MPs from practically all quarters of the political spectrum still keeping Alexis Tsipras and his hard leftists in power, Sunday's result is viewed by the opposition as a "referendum" over the government's continued mandate.

On his part, Tsipras has spoke at numerous pre-election rallies around the country over the past 10 days, while also abruptly unveiling a modest relief package and even promising more pension hikes and tax breaks - but in 2020, after a general election. At the same time, the leftist premier and much of his top Cabinet members are adamant that they will exhaust the current mandate "to the very last hour."

Tsipras voted on Sunday morning in the inner city Athens district of Kypseli, where he referred to a "day of responsibility for the many; for each one of us to defend the sacrifices and efforts of the Greek people."

Tsipras, who in his teens was an active member of the Communist Party's (KKE) youth wing, phrased the current Europarliament election in a "class struggle" framework, as one pitting "the many against the few", as he said.

Conversely, pro-reform and pro-market ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the son of late Greek prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, expressed a certainty that "a new, brighter day will emerge tomorrow," speaking after casting his vote in the upscale northern Athens district of Kifissia.

He also asked for voters to provide his party with a "clear victory".

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