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Explainer: Greece’s election on Sunday: how the system works

The following is the political backdrop to Greece’s parliamentary election on Sunday. Opinion polls show former Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party winning by a wide margin over the leftist Syriza party, which ruled in 2015-2019 at the peak of the Greek debt crisis.

May election

New Democracy won May 21 vote with a 20-point lead over Syriza, a margin Greece has not seen since the 1970s. But it fell short of the majority needed to rule alone due to a proportional voting system in place for that poll.

Mitsotakis did not seek coalition allies, saying Greece needs a strong and stable government to push on with necessary reforms. The other parties decided against forging their own coalition, leading the country to a repeat election.

Mitsotakis then stepped aside for the country to be run by a caretaker government, as required by the constitution.

Opinion polls

Opinion polls conducted since then show New Democracy (ND) widening its lead further ahead of Sunday’s vote.

A poll conducted by RASS polling agency published on June 19 put ND at 42.9% versus 17.9% for Syriza, and showed it winning a comfortable 166-seat majority in the 300-seat parliament. The Socialist PASOK party ranked third with 12.3%. Opinion polls suggest that up to seven parties could enter parliament, including the leftist Plefsi Eleftherias, founded by former Syriza lawmaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, and a newly set up far-right party called Spartans.

The system

The repeat election will be held under a semi-proportional representation, or reinforced proportionality, with a sliding scale seat bonus.

Parties need to secure at least 3% of the vote to enter parliament for a four-year term.

Under the new system, the winning party is awarded a bonus of 20 to 50 seats. It receives 20 seats outright if it gets at least 25% of the vote, and can get up to 50 seats if it gets about 40% of the vote.

Over 9.9 million Greeks aged over 17 are eligible to vote. CURRENT PARLIAMENT  (as formed after May 21 election) Parties in the current parliament (with number of seats): New Democracy, centre-right. Leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis (146) Syriza, left wing. Leader Alexis Tsipras (71) PASOK-KINAL, centre-left. Leader Nikos Androulakis (41) KKE, communist. Leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas (26) Hellenic Solution, right-wing. Leader Kyriakos Velopoulos(16)

The leftist Mera25 party, founded by former finance minister under Syriza’s rule Yanis Varoufakis, did not make it into parliament on May 21.

Source: Reuters