In Greece election, Kyriakos Mitsotakis is the favorite

The outgoing right-wing prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is the favorite in Greece’s legislative elections on Sunday, the results of which could force a new ballot if he falls short of a stable majority.

In front of him, Alexis Tsipras, the leftist Syrian leader, seeks to take over the country’s reins after a first term from 2015 to 2019 marked by a standoff with the European Union, then capitulation during stormy talks to rescue Greece. ,

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time (4 a.m. GMT). Exit polls will be published at the close of polls at 7:00 pm local time (4:00 pm GMT).

In Aigaleio, in the western suburbs of Athens, retiree Maria Tombakis, 67, wants “a change” but is “not very optimistic”. Evgenia, a 41-year-old woman who did not give her name, had “difficulty making a choice”.

The outgoing Greek parliament (AFP – Vincent LEFAI, Sophie RAMIS)

An election campaign considered sluggish ended on Friday evening when, at the foot of the Acropolis hill, 55-year-old Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked voters for a new four-year term to continue building a “new Greece”.

At the same time, his rival Alexis Tsipras predicted an end to the “nightmare” on Sunday and accused the government of following an economic policy that led to “the middle class surviving on food stamps”.

For months, polls have given the conservative leader of New Democracy (ND) a comfortable lead of between 5 and 7 points.

– No alliance –

According to a poll conducted by Arco on Thursday, the ND is credited with 32.7% of voting intentions and Syriza with 26%. Samajwadi Party Pasok-Kinal was able to get 8.3% votes in third place.

But such a score for authority will not allow him to rule alone. But Kyriakos Mitsotakis refused to form a coalition in a country whose political culture is not based on compromise.

“Our goal is to get an absolute majority,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis insisted in an interview with To Vima newspaper on Sunday, believing it is a guarantee of stability.

“The real question is whether we are going forward or going backward? Who will be in charge of the country in front of Turkey whose future is uncertain?”, he added.

Alexis Tsipras, 48, has already made foot calls to Pasok-Kinal’s leader Nikos Androlakis, but the latter has made demands.

If forming a government is impossible, as many analysts anticipate, a new vote will have to be held in late June or early July.

On an election tour from Crete to the Turkish border, Mr Mitsotakis has consistently brandished his economic record. Falling unemployment, growth of nearly 6% last year, a return to investment and a boom in tourism, the economy has rebounded after years of acute crisis and European rescue plans.

But the decline in purchasing power and the difficulties of making a living remain the main concerns of a population that has made painful sacrifices over the past ten years.

Many Greeks have to make do with low wages and have lost faith in public services following severe weight loss treatments.

The country still suffers from a public debt of over 170% of its GDP.

– “worse and worse” –

“We are going from bad to worse,” says 39-year-old Giorgos Antonopoulos, a store worker in the country’s second city, Thessaloniki. We are working just to survive.

In late February, the train crash that killed 57 people sparked the anger that has plagued Greece since the crisis and sparked demonstrations against a conservative government it accuses of lax safety on the rail network. done.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the son of a former prime minister, has also been indicted over a scandal of illegal telephone tapping targeting politicians and journalists.

In March, the European Parliament condemned “serious threats to the rule of law and fundamental rights” in Greece, according to Dutch MEP Sophie in Velde.

Greece, ranked just below the EU in terms of press freedom in Reporters Without Borders’ annual ranking, is also regularly accused of turning migrants back to Turkey.

On Friday, the US daily New York Times published a video documenting such illegal practices, which Athens strongly denied.

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