Tsipras calls snap elections in Greece after EU election defeat

Voters turned away from his Syriza party in the local elections, held the same day as well

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for snap elections on Sunday in Greece after suffering a landslide defeat by nearly 10% from the main opposition party, New Democracy. In a speech at SYRIZA party premises, Tsipras said he would meet with the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos after the second round of Prefectoral and Local elections (next Sunday) to call the snap elections immediately.

This, according to Greek electoral law would position the most probable date for Greece to go to the ballots on the 30 June. Under normal circumstances, Tsipras’ mandate ends in October.

"Following the second round of local elections (on 2 June), I will ask the president to immediately call national elections," a visibly disappointed Tsipras said in a televised address. "I will not run away or quit the struggle for equality, solidarity, social justice." “This result gives the opposition the right to question our programme and our plan,” he also added, continuing that the popular verdict is in the Greek people’s hands.

Prime Minister's decision comes after his party suffered a larger than anticipated loss. With 74.75 percent of the votes counted by 09:35 a.m. (EEST) on Monday, and citied by Greek media Ekathimerini, New Democracy had garnered 33.25 percent (which corresponds to 7 seats in the EP), Tsipras' SYRIZA had 23.74 percent (6 seats), centre-left Movement for Change (KINAL) had 7.51 percent (2 seats), the Communist Party KKE had 5.53 percent (2 seats), neo-Nazi Golden Dawn had 4.87 percent (2 seats), pro-Russian right-wing party Greek Solution with 4.12 percent (1 seat) and the Diem25 party of former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis had 3.05 percent of the vote (1 seat).

As Ekathimerini underlines, the gap of almost 10% between ND and SYRIZA is the widest ever recorded between the first two contenders in the nine European Elections held in the country since 1981. Furthermore, the clear lead consolidated by candidates supported by ND in the country’s largest municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in the equivalent regional units of Attica and Central Macedonia in the first round of local elections, further pointed to the crushing defeat of the governing party.

"Greece has sent a strong message... the people have withdrawn their confidence," New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis commented.

Similar outcome in the EP election also haunts Romania. A worse-than-expected result for Romania’s ruling party in the European Parliament elections put its chairman, the country’s de-facto leader, under pressure to resign, including from some members of his own party. In response, Social Democratic Party boss Liviu Dragnea vowed to take responsibility for the poor result, but said any decision he takes will have to be debated with party members in the coming days after official results are out. Yet, he brushed off calls from his rivals, including President Klaus Iohannis and opposition parties, for the government to resign.

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