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Greek Prime Minister Announces May 21 as National Election Date

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has confirmed Tuesday 21 May as the date for the next parliamentary elections.

Four years into the job, the incumbent has said he wants a clean slate to push forward with more reforms.

Opinion polls have shown Mitsotakis’ New Democratic Party comfortably leading left-wing opposition Syriza since coming to power in 2019, but the Feb. 28 railway disaster that killed 57 people sparked public outrage and narrowed that gap.

“The country and its citizens need clear prospects… National elections will be held at the end of the four-year term, as I pledged from the beginning,” Mitsotakis said in a televised cabinet meeting.

The rail disaster on the Athens-Thessaloniki route, Greece’s deadliest on record, sparked massive protests over the safety shortcomings of an underfunded and poorly maintained network, the legacy of a decade-long financial crisis that ended in 2018.

Mitsotakis said the “painful and shocking” experience of the railway disaster highlighted the shortcomings that still plague the country.

“Turning all of this is a clear priority for the day after,” Mitsotakis said.

The tragedy left an indelible mark on the voter’s collective psyche, said polling agency ALCO head Kostas Panagopoulos.

“Public anger and negative sentiment multiplied and hit the main narrative of this government, which is that it changed Greece,” he told Reuters.

“It will be very important to know whether the protest vote prevails, or whether the government’s narrative of stability prevails,” Panagopoulos said.

The May 21 ballot will take place under a new system of proportional representation. This system makes it difficult for a party to obtain a clear majority, which paves the way for a second runoff. The prime minister said this vote would take place “no later than early July”.

“The first ballot will decide who will rule (the country) and the second ballot will decide how they will rule,” he said. On May 21, Greek citizens will choose whether the country will continue to seek to win the bet of reforms.

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