Greek PM falls short of absolute majority election win
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is due to receive an official mandate to try to form a coalition government after falling short of an absolute majority election win.
Mitsotakis' New Democracy party won 40.8 per cent of the vote versus 20 per cent for the leftist Syriza.
The result was a stunning boost for Mitsotakis, whose administration had to deal with a wiretapping scandal, the COVID-19 pandemic, a cost of living crisis and a deadly rail crash in February that triggered public outrage.
But under a new voting system, he failed to win outright, securing 146 seats in the 300-member parliament, below a threshold of 151 MPs to govern the country alone.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou was expected to invite Mitsotakis on Monday and hand him a three-day mandate to lead negotiations with other parties to try to form a coalition.
If the talks fail, the second and third parties - Syriza followed by the socialist PASOK - each get a three-day mandate as well.
Should no party succeed in forming a coalition, Sakellaropoulou will appoint a caretaker government to take the country to a new vote about a month later.
On Sunday, Mitsotakis said people gave him the mandate to "rule strong and autonomous", suggesting he was unlikely to join forces with any other party.
His sights were set on the second ballot which will take place under a semi-proportional representation, with a sliding scale seat bonus, increasing the chances of an outright win for his party.
"The dynamics of the result were more than clear - citizens want a strong government, with a four-year term, (to carry out) bolder reforms," Mitsotakis said after his win on Sunday.
The election result was a disaster for Syriza and its leader Alexis Tsipras, a firebrand leftist catapulted to power in 2015 on the back of voters' discontent with other parties over their handling of the debt crisis which ravaged Greece's economy for more than a decade.
Tsipras telephoned Mitsotakis to congratulate him on his win, a Syriza official said.
Greece almost crashed out of the euro at the peak of its debt crisis in 2015, forcing the country, under Tsipras's watch, to take a third bailout from international lenders.
Mitsotakis, elected in 2019, had portrayed himself as a safe pair of hands in his campaign to win the votes of about 10 million Greeks, promising to raise wages and pensions cut during the crisis.