ATHENS (Reuters) – Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Greek socialist Syriza party, refused on Tuesday to accept a mandate to form a coalition government.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose New Democracy party earned 40.8% of the vote on Sunday compared with Syriza’s 20.1%, had already decided against joining a coalition and has pushed for a second vote to secure an outright majority. Syriza’s percentage of the vote on Sunday was 20.1%.
After many people rejected Syriza’s radical, anti-establishment attitude, which had swept it to power during the stormy years of the Greek debt crisis, Tsipras informed President Katerina Sakellaropoulou that he could not form a government. This came after Syriza had surged to power during those difficult years.
“I have no reason to hide that the electoral result is a painful shock, and it was unexpected,” Tsipras stated outside the presidential residence. Additional votes to the victorious party will be activated. If Mitsotakis’ party wins this round, it will receive enough bonus votes to secure a parliamentary majority and become the sole governing party.
Opposition parties can’t cobble enough votes to create a governing coalition without New Democracy’s participation. The heads of both parties have made it clear that they would not participate in exploratory talks.
Tsipras stated in a televised statement that the key job of Syriza was to “prevent the prospects of an almighty and uncontrollable ruler-prime minister” and to ensure the presence of the left in Greece’s political landscape. He made these comments about the possibility that someone may lead the Greek government with absolute power.
Before the election, Mitsotakis told Reuters he intended to ensure his party obtained a solid majority. He wanted to do this because “experience has taught us in Greece that one-party governments are much more stable than coalition governments.”
The failure of Syriza, which had referred to the second vote as the “final battle,” has brought to light a division in the left. The two new leftist parties that former members of Syriza formed did not receive sufficient votes to be admitted into parliament.
Before the first vote, the Syriza party attempted to win over the support of the socialist PASOK party, which came in third place on Sunday, and other leftist parties, including the Communist KKE. This would have allowed Syriza to form a coalition administration.
After it was defeated, Syriza accused them of abandoning efforts to create a coalition against the conservatives and turning their backs on the process.
Before the president picks a caretaker administration to lead Greece to a second election, PASOK will still be formally given the mandate to form a coalition government. This will take place before the president makes his appointment.
According to the regulations that govern elections, the winner of a second vote that takes place after a first election that does not produce a clear victor is awarded 20 additional seats in parliament if they earn 25% of the vote and up to 50 bonus seats if they receive around 40% of the vote. Even if Mitsotakis received a percentage of the vote somewhat lower than 40 percent, he would still have a majority.
For him to be eligible for bonus seats, his party must maintain its position as the largest, which seems likely considering that his closest competitor, Syriza, received 20.1% of the vote. However, the number of seats Mitsotakis will win will be determined by the number of other successful parties entering parliament.