site.btaParliamentary Elections in Greece: Two Diverse Laws with Outcome in Limbo
Besides the new party-list proportional representation system, which was adopted in 2016 but will be applied for the first time now, this will also be the first time Greeks living abroad will be able to vote at 99 polling stations in 35 countries, the Vima daily reported. A polling station will also be opened at the consular office in Sofia, the Greek Embassy told BTA. The only difference – Greeks abroad, over 21,000 registered to date, according to the Naftemboriki, will cast their vote on Saturday, not Sunday, May 21.
Then again, eligible voting age was also reduced from 18 to 17 in 2016, so now the number of first-time voters aged 17-21 stands at 438 595, the state-owned ERT TV reported.
The number of Greeks eligible to cast their vote in the forthcoming elections slightly exceeds 9.8 million, the Interior Ministry said. They will have access to 21,529 polling stations, open from 7:00 am until 7:00 pm on voting day.
What distinguishes these elections particularly, though, is the new election system, which could probably prove the reason for yet another round of voting this year. As the leading political candidates strive for independence and are not particularly partial to coalitions, it is quite likely that a government may not be formed after the first elections. On the other hand, this is more viable after a possible next vote, as the system of vote distribution will be different and will benefit the first party.
On May 21, the leading party will need nearly 50% of the vote to form a government, while only 37% would suffice at a second vote, ERT TV explained, while Sky TV calculated them at 46% and 38% respectively.
According to the election law bequeathed by a left-wing majority best known by the syllabic abbreviation SYRIZA and its prime minister Alexis Tsipras, the forthcoming parliamentary elections will be held by a regular party-list proportional representation system, the Kathimerini reported. However, last Tuesday Sky TV said that public opinion polls showed it would be difficult to avoid another round of elections. In that case, those will be held according to the legislation passed by the current New Democracy majority, meaning the so-called system of 'reinforced' proportional representation. This system gives the leading party additional scope to independently gain power by taking more seats than it is entitled to proportionally according to the vote.
To form a government after the elections, the first party or coalition needs to achieve a majority of 151 seats in the 300-seat parliament. Under the system of ordinary proportional representation, this would require a percentage close to 50%. This percentage depends on the votes for the parties remaining below the 3% threshold to enter parliament, ERT TV said.
The main peculiarity of the 2016 voting system is that it almost precludes a single-party majority. This, however, does not mean that the first party could ignored easily at the forming of a government, particularly if it has a considerable lead.
The radical change in the 2016 election law lies in the removal of the "bonus" of a maximum of 50 seats for the first party. In the event of a re-run election, it is this redistributive system that will apply. Then, in the event of garnering 40% of the vote, the first party would receive an additional 50 seats. In the event of a result of 25%, it would gain a further 20 seats and the remaining 280 seats would be distributed proportionally. If more than 25% of the votes are collected, the leading party would receive 1 additional seat (on top of the bonus of 20 seats) for every 0.5% above (up to a maximum of 50 seats). The same applies in the case of a coalition of parties.
Under this system, with at least 37% a party can have realistic hopes for an independent government.
A sure indication of how political events will unfold for those in power in Greece will be will be on Sunday evening, once Greeks abroad and those at home have made their voices heard.