Greek election date set for May 6

We (finally) have a date for the Greek parliamentary elections: May 6.

Under the Greek election system, which will be conducted under a new 2007 electoral law, 250 of the 300 seats in the Hellenic Parliament will be awarded on the basis of proportional representation (only if the national tally exceeds 3% of the total vote, however).  The additional 50 seats will be awarded to the party that wins the leading number of votes.

Currently, the top two vote-winners in polls are Greece’s two longtime parties: New Democracy (Νέα Δημοκρατία), which has led most polls going into the vote with just over 20% of likely voters, and PASOK (the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα), which polls anywhere from 12% to 16% under its new leader, former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos

Both PASOK and New Democracy support the current round of bailouts from the ‘troika’ of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, including regulatory reforms and controversial austerity measures that have led to widespread cuts in public spending, strong disapproval from the Greek electorate and have helped stall Greek GDP growth.  Together, PASOK and New Democracy approved the appointment of current prime minister Lucas Papademos, who succeeded former PASOK prime minister George Papandreou (who will nonetheless be standing for election on May 6 in Achaia). 

Accordingly, both PASOK and New Democracy are at near-record levels of unpopularity heading into the May 6 election.

The latest poll from Public Issue, however, shows New Democracy with just 19% support and PASOK with 14.5%, which is too little to form a coalition — any party (or parties) need to win between 36% and 39% of the total vote to command enough seats to govern.  Taken together, the 33.5% represents the lowest total of the two of any poll to date.

Nonetheless, at least four anti-bailout parties have also emerged with anywhere between 8% and 12% of the vote, making it likely that both ND and PASOK will receive traditionally lower support than ever.  The KKE, Greece’s longtime Communist Party, wins 11%, SYRIZA, a coalition of the Radical Left no longer associated with the KKE, wins 13%, DIMAR — the “Democratic Left,” a splinter group from SYRIZA, wins 12%.  Meanwhile, the Independent Greeks, an anti-austerity group that splintered from New Democracy, also wins 11%.  The neo-fascist Golden Dawn polled 5% and each of the Ecologist Greens and the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally polled 3%.

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