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Greece Elections : What you need to know


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Greece Elections : What you need to know

When is the election happening?

Greek national elections will be held on January 25th 2015. The polls will be open between 6 am and 6 pm Central European Time (note: Athens is Eastern European Time, i.e. CET + 1). The results of an exit poll will be published immediately after the vote. A clear picture should emerge by around 21:30 local time when around 10 percent of the votes will have been counted.

How will it work?

Main parties participating:

- New Democracy (“Nea Dimokratia”, ND). Conservative, liberal. President: Antónis Samarás, incumbent prime minister

- SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left). Left. President: Aléxis Tsípras.

- PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement). Centre-left. President: foreign mininster and incumbent government deputy prime minister: Evángelos Venizélos.

- KIDISO (Socialists Democrats Movement). Centre-left. President: Giórgos Papandréou.

- DIMAR (Democratic Left). Moderate left. President: Fótis Kouvélis.

- KKE (Communist Party of Greece). Communists. Secretary General: Dimítris Koutsoúmpas.

- ANEL (Independent Greeks). Right populists. President: Pános Kamménos.

- LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally). Far right populists, Christian democrats. President: Giórgos Karatzaféris.

- Golden Dawn (XA). Far right nationalists, neonazis. Secretary General: Níkos Mihaloliákos.

More details in the article:

From jailbirds to journalists: the other leaders contesting the Greek elections

Voters are those who are 18 years old and above. Voting is mandatory, but there is no precedent of any penalties on non voters.

The Greek parliament consists of 300 seats. 250 seats are distributed to the parties (or coalition thereof) that get at least 3% of the votes. The remaining 50 seats are allocated as majority bonus to the party with the biggest figure. To earn an absolute majority and form a government, a party needs at least 151 seats.

What is expected to happen?

Should pollsters predictions prove correct and SYRIZA claim victory, it will be the first time that a left-leaning party will get the chance to form a government in Greece. Since 1974, when the Third Hellenic Republic was established, New Democracy or PASOK have always been the ruling party, either with an outright majority or with the participation of left parties.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, the parliament will have to elect a new Head of State as one of its first duties. The President of the Hellenic Republic is elected by the parliament for a 5 year term and requires a broad consensus. Since the previous parliament could not agree on its choice, it had to be dissolved, resulting in the snap elections.

The incumbent President Karolos Papoulias’ term expires in March.

What are the main issues?

In times of crisis, all talks start and end with the term “economy” but there have been a number of sub-texts to the campaigns.

Unemployment

Greece doesn’t top many economic tables but for unemployment it is the undisputed European Union champion with more than a quarter of the potential workforce without a job. Young people and women are the groups that suffer the most (Around half of young people are out of work).

Public security / illegal immigration

As Greece’s eastern borders are Europe’s borders, the country facing constant pressure from irregular immigration. The debate has polarized about whether the new arrivals should be treated more like criminals or given more help to improve their lives.

Euro-Greek relations

Every step the government takes has to be in line with the country’s bailout obligations and the memoranda signed with the troika of the international lenders (EU Commision, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund). The terms of the deals are seen by many in Greece as extremely harsh, and questions have been raised as to whether their ultimate consequence might be a eurozone exit (aka GREXIT).

What are the biggest parties promising?

New Democracy and SYRIZA are the parties most likely to take the lead role in government.

ND vows to continue negotiations with the troika to ensure that Greece will receive its next tranche from the bailout loans, remain on a course of reforms and debt relief and thus in the eurozone. In this framework, ND has pledged to gradually ease taxes, as their policies sustain and extend Greece’s primary surplus.

SYRIZA wants ND out of the picture, in order to renegotiate the bailout deals and soften their terms. They promise to reestablish social and salary benefits that have been cut back during the crisis (since May 2010) and ease tax measures that have been taken.

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