Delta changed plans for early elections in Greece
Even if you were a tourist in Greece - actually for a Turk that would be difficult due to coronavirus restrictions - you would have noticed that Greeks have taken to the streets.
Under scorching temperatures, clusters of Greek citizens have been gathering in central squares in major cities, protesting against the strict measures of the Greek government for making anti-COVID vaccination obligatory for certain professions. Whether it is against the constitution to force someone to get vaccinated or whether any government has the right to do so, this has split the society. An unusual number of citizens think that forcing someone to make decisions about their health and their body is against the constitution of God’s will.
After a second harsh winter of an almost non-stop lockdown and a mismanaged vaccination campaign by the government, the Greeks are now asked or forced to obey new rules against the Delta mutation, which is spreading fast, especially in big cities and popular holiday resorts. But, like in the rest of Europe, an anti-vaccination movement is gathering pace. In a surreal way, these groups are becoming more visible and louder as the figures of detected COVID cases are increasing and as more infected people have to be hospitalized.
Other groups have taken to the streets, too. These are the followers of the leftist official opposition party of Syriza. Their leader, Alexis Tsipras, decided to start an election campaign as of this July – new elections are not due until two years later. Tsipras announced that his party believes that the liberal Mitsotakis’ government of New Democracy will take the country to elections in the autumn to escape an economically tricky winter. But things are not easy for Tsipras, either. One of the Syriza members of the European Parliament and prominent journalist created a stir with an article analyzing why the Syriza party is no longer popular. He pointed out the mistakes of Syriza after its defeat in 2019 and warned of the urgent need for the party to renew and unite.
In normal circumstances, that would have been good news for the Mitsotakis’ governing party. And it would have been precisely the reason why he would take the country to early elections in the autumn - in order not to allow his opponent to regather and re-organize.
But with this pandemic, nobody can make plans. The government’s anticipation that Greece would manage to reduce the cases of COVID-19 to a manageable level and go through a relatively smooth summer with enough tourists to keep the tourism sector alive proved wrong. The onslaught of Delta brought a sharp increase in the coronavirus cases, and new patients started filling up the hospitals again. On top of it, the slow pace of vaccinations has prevented the building up of a “wall of immunity.” All that made the planners of the New Democracy party put aside the option of an early election in the autumn. They decided that it is better to wait until next year.
However, in the meantime, if the official opposition manages to reincarnate itself - although it looks difficult - the battle for a second term for the government will not be so easy.