Athens Digest 03.06.2019

• Socialists in upheaval after heavyweight member quits

• Poll tips ND to form a majority government with 9-point lead

• Conservatives sweep local and regional elections

• All eyes on President after cabinet selects top court leadership despite legitimacy concerns

# Center-left coalition KINAL, which came third in European elections, was plunged into turmoil at the weekend after Evangelos Venizelos -a former leader of socialist PASOK and an ex deputy PM- quit over the decision of its leader Fofi Gennimata not to place him on top of the state list of candidates for the July 7 elections. State list candidates are elected based on the share of the vote the party receives. Venizelos accused Gennimata of turning KINAL into an “appendage” of ruling left-wing SYRIZA while Gennimata said her aim is to attract more center left voters. The rupture was decried by party officials, with some stepping down as election candidates. Nikos Androulakis, who picked up the most votes as MEP candidate for KINAL in the Euro election, rued an “extremely negative development that should have been avoided, a day before local elections and a month before national polls.”

# Conservative New Democracy will beat ruling SYRIZA by a margin of 9 percentage points in next month’s national elections and will form a majority government with 151-154 lawmakers in the 300-seat House, according to a poll published yesterday. The poll conducted by Pulse on behalf of Skai TV showed that ND would garner 34-percent of the vote compared to 25-percent for SYRIZA.  KINAL was third with 8-percent (polled justed before the party’s internal crisis), ahead of.communist KKE on 5.5-percent, extreme right Golden Dawn on 5-percent and pro-Russian Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution) with 4-percent. Varoufakis’ MeRA25 is predicted to get between 2 and 4-percent whith a 3-pervent threshold to enter in the parliament while 6.5-percent of those polled said they were undecided or did not respond.

# New Democracy-backed candidates prevailed in yesterday’s local and regional election run-offs ND or ND-backed candidates won all seven regions up for grabs yesterday. Another five regional governorships were won by ND in the first round the previous Sunday. All in all, ND or ND-backed candidates were expected to win 12 out of the country’s 13 regions. Moreover, ND-backed Costas Bakoyiannis was elected Athens Mayor while fellow conservative Giorgos Patoulis was elected Attica regional governor.

# The cabinet on Friday selected two senior ranking judicial officials to replace the outgoing president and prosecutor of the Supreme Court despite the objections raised by constitutional experts, the opposition and several government officials over the legitimacy of the process before national elections on July 7. However, the decision must be ratified by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos with a decree before the election. If not, the new government formed may possibly proceed with new appointments.

On Our Radar: Road accidents drop in March compared to previous year  
Road accidents in Greece were down by 6.4-percent in March compared to the same month last year, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). More specifically, road accidents throughout the country which caused the death or injury of individuals, amounted to 833 in March, compared with 890 in March 2018.  The agency said that 45 died, 45 were seriously injured and 938 slightly injured, compared with 69 dead, 60 seriously injured and 977 lightly injured in March the previous year.