Athens Digest 27.05.2019

• Tsipras calls snap elections

• Early polls “likely to be market positive” says George Pagoulatos

• Conservatives make gains in local, regional polls

• Chairman of Attica Bank dies aged 69

# Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he will call snap general elections after next weekend’s second round of local and regional elections following his SYRIZA party’s heavy defeat in European Parliament elections yesterday. Tsipras conceded that the result “did not live up to expectations” and gave the opposition the right to challenge his party’s plans. Elections are expected on June 30.  Earlier main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the result showed that the people had lost their confidence in the government and that Tsipras “must resign and the country should hold national elections as soon as possible.” With 72.52 percent of votes counted, ND had a lead of 9.5 points, with 33.25-percent of the vote (7 seats) against SYRIZA with 23.76- percent (6 seats). Movement for Change (KINAL) was on 7.47- percent (2 seats) ahead of communist  KKE (2 seats) with 5.55- percent, extreme right Golden Dawn (4.86 – 2 seats) and pro-Russian right-wing party Greek Solution with (4.12 – 1 seat)  The party of former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, MeRA25, had 3.06-percent (1 seat, not secured yet).

# In comments to the Athens Digest, the professor of European politics and economics at the Athens University of Economics and Business and Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, George Pagoulatos described the result as “a heavy defeat for the Tsipras government and a strong victory for ND.” “The result is good for the economy and snap elections in June are likely to be market positive,” he said, adding that “a prolonged electoral period until October would have derailed the economy.” “The strong lead of the ND party allows the prospect of a stable market-friendly government, under Mitsotakis, after the general elections,” he concluded

# Conservative candidates also did well in the first round of local and regional elections yesterday. More specifically, in the Athens mayoral race, conservative Costas Bakoyannis was on course for a landslide win over  SYRIZA’s candidate Nasos Iliopoulos, while in Thessaloniki, ND’s candidate for mayor, Nikos Tachiaos, was also leading.  In the race for Attica regional governor, ND-backed candidate Giorgos Patoulis held an overwhelming lead over SYRIZA incumbent Rena Dourou paving the way for a runoff next weekend. In Greece’s second largest region of Central Macedonia, the incumbent conservative governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas was also set for a landslide in what was seen as an expression of voter discontent in northern Greece over the name deal ratified earlier this year with North Macedonia.

On Our Radar: Chairman of Attica Bank dies aged 69
Greek banker Giorgos Michelis, who was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Attica Bank in late March, died on Saturday. He was 69. Michelis had served as CEO of Bancpost, a subsidiary of Greece’s Eurobank in Romania, general manager of Emporiki Bank as well as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Egnatia Bank. He had also served as Chairman of the General Council of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) in 2015-18.