Polls for Greece’s second election in a year show the far left and the traditional right neck and neck. Neither former prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party nor New Democracy, led by Vangelis Meimarakis, would win a majority of their own on Sunday but whoever comes out on top will likely form the next government.
Four different surveys published on Thursday gave both Syriza and New Democracy between 25 and 31 percent support. In all the polls, the two were too close to predict a winner.
Tsipras, who resigned last month, has recognized that he may only return to power in a coalition with other parties after dominating the polls for months.
The far-left leader came to power in January on promises to cancel austerity and a majority of Greeks supported him through a months-long struggle with the nation’s European creditors for more favorable bailout terms. When, in July, he capitulated and agreed to enact economic and political reforms his party previously resisted in return for a third, €86 billion rescue package, the public mood began to shift.
Although Greece desperately needed the money to contain a bank run and stave off sovereign default which could have triggered its ejection from the eurozone, Syriza was split. Dozens of its 149 lawmakers refused to back the bailout plan and walked out to form a new party, Popular Unity.
On the right, the fascist Golden Dawn is also campaigning against more austerity and could get as much as 8 percent support, up from 6 percent in the January election.
That leaves the parties in the middle as potential coalition partners for both Syriza and New Democracy: the centrist To Potami and the social democratic PASOK. The latter alternated in power with the conservatives after democracy was restored in 1974 but has been punished in recent years by left-wing voters for supporting the harsh terms of Greece’s financial support from the rest of the European Union. The party governed in coalition with New Democracy from 2012 to the start of this year.
Syriza governed with the support of the right-wing Independent Greeks but polls predict they will lose all their seats.