Roundup: Greek political parties trying to woo young voters ahead of general elections
ATHENS, May 16– Greece’s political parties are trying to woo young voters ahead of the scheduled May 21 general elections. Out of the 9.8 million registered voters, approximately 438,000 young people aged 17-21 are eligible to vote for the first time, according to official figures released by the Interior Ministry. According to exit polls taken on the eve of the…
ATHENS, May 16 (Xinhua) — Greece’s political parties are trying to woo young voters ahead of the scheduled May 21 general elections. According to analysts, the political preferences of this segment of the population are highly difficult to capture.
The country’s new electoral law gives the right to vote to Greeks whose 17th birthday falls within the calendar year of an election, a year earlier than previously. Out of the 9.8 million registered voters, approximately 438,000 young people aged 17-21 are eligible to vote for the first time, according to official figures released by the Interior Ministry.
Their voices will be heard for the first time and they account for more than 5 percent of the electorate.
The latest opinion polls tend to give the ruling conservative New Democracy (ND) party a lead of up to 7 percentage points over the main opposition party, the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance. However, younger voters seem to lean more towards the left-wing parties, analysts say.
According to exit polls taken on the eve of the 2019 general elections, 38 percent of voters younger than 24 years had voted for SYRIZA and 30 percent for the ND, Panos Koliastasis, adjunct assistant professor of politics at the University of Peloponnese, wrote in a recent article in the Greek daily Kathimerini.
According to the same exit polls, 5.7 percent of this age group had voted for the leftist MERA25 party and 4.9 percent for the Socialists.
Ahead of this year’s elections, 63 percent of voters younger than 25 years say they want change, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis.
A key question is whether these young voters will show up at the polling stations at all. In 2019, one in two chose not to vote, Koliastasis noted. In recent opinion polls, the percentage of young people who state that they will vote this time ranges between 50 percent and 80 percent.
“Most (of us) know who we want to vote for. There will also be abstention, of course… But there are many who know what they will vote for, and we are informed,” Valantis, a 23-year-old mathematics student, told Xinhua on Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament building.
He reached his decision after studying the parties’ programs on education, the labor market and other topics that concern his generation.
During the pre-election campaign, political leaders tried to win support with pledges for the creation of new jobs, higher wages, measures supporting affordable housing and other policies that respond in particular to the younger generations’ concerns.
The unemployment rate in Greece in March this year was a 13-year record low of 10.9 percent, after climbing up to 27.6 percent during the debt crisis (2009-2018). However, it was still more than double that figure at 24.2 percent for young people up to 24 years this March, according to data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
Currently, the minimum monthly wage is 780 euros (848 U.S. dollars), while living costs have skyrocketed during the latest energy crisis.
Seven in ten young respondents to a survey carried out by Eteron think tank this spring said high living costs topped their list of concerns.
Konstantina, 19, is a first-time voter. She is a university student, who works during the summer holidays to add to the allowance she receives from her parents to pay her rent and other expenses, she told Xinhua. Many of her fellow students and their families are struggling to make ends meet, she said.
“I’m going to vote, of course. I think all young people should vote, let’s take the future into our own hands,” she said.
In order to convey their messages, political leaders have increased their presence on social media like TikTok, which are more popular among younger voters, who do not watch traditional debates on television or read newspapers.
Political analysts agree that due to the way the Greek electoral system works, it will be difficult for any single political party to secure a parliamentary majority in the first round.
If a second election round is required, it will take place at the beginning of July at the latest, the government has said. The second round would be held under new electoral rules, which provide for extra seats for the winning party. (1 euro= 1.09 U.S. dollars) Enditem
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