Athens Digest 21.06.2019

• New polls show clear win for ND _ with slim majority in parliament

• EU leaders to Turkey: Stop drilling

• Mitsotakis meets Merkel, Weber while Tsipras backs Timmermans

• Current account deficit shows modest improvement

# New Democracy is heading for an outright win in the July 7 general election, a new poll suggests, the conservatives maintaining an 8-point lead over Syriza. The survey by Pulse for Skai television showed 35 percent support for the conservatives, 27 percent for Syriza, and: the Movement for Change at 7 percent, KKE at 5.5 percent, and Golden Dawn at 4.5 percent. Yanis Varoufakis’ MeRA25 was up with 3.5 percent, and the far-right Greek Solution was at 3 percent. The number of undecided voters dropped from 9 percent in a poll earlier this month to 7.5 percent. Pulse’s parliamentary seat projections suggest New Democracy appears likely to avoid a hung parliament, with 156 seats in a six-party assembly and 152 in a seven-party parliament. In a second poll, released yesterday by ALCO for Open TV, New Democracy maintains a 9.2 percent lead over Syriza (32.4 and 23.2 percent, respectively).

# European Union leaders last night renewed their strong condemnation of Turkey over its role in the offshore drilling spat. “The European Council expresses serious concerns over Turkey’s current illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and deplores that Turkey has not yet responded to the EU’s repeated calls to cease such activities,” the Council said in a statement. “The European Council calls on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such actions. The European Council endorses the invitation to the Commission and the EEAS to submit options for appropriate measures without delay, including targeted measures.”

# Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the opposition leader, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nicos Anastasiades, the Cypriot president, in Brussels at a gathering of the European People’s Party, as Greece sought to focus European attention on tension in the East Mediterranean as Turkey sent a second drillship to an area off the coast of Cyprus. The EPP said it considered Turkey’s actions “to be a very serious breach of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus.” Mitsotakis also met EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber, and joined other leaders in expressing support for his effort to become the next president of the European Commission under the Spitzenkandidat process.

# Prime Minister Tsipras renewed his endorsement of Socialist-backed Frans Timmermans to become the next Commission president while attending a meeting of the Party of European Socialists as an observer. Tsipras again lashed at Timmermans’ conservative rival Manfred Weber, accusing him of having inflicted suffering on southern European countries with his support of economic austerity. The PES meeting was also attended by Fofi Gennimata, the Pasok leader.

# The country’s current account deficit showed a modest improvement on the year in April, falling to EUR 1.4 billion from EUR 1.486 billion in 2018. The Bank of Greece said the improvement was helped by lower fuel costs. The January-April figure was EUR 5.1 billion, up by EUR 335 million on the year. The January-April period also saw a EUR 4.2 billion rise in non-residents’ holdings of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills.

On our Radar: Power Struggle

The PPC share price was hammered 17.3 percent amid continued concerns about the company’s finances. Reportedly, the company is in a state of emergency, trying secure EUR 300 million in the next days in order to avoid the activation of clauses forcing the immediate repayment of loans due. The government accused the opposition of scaremongering over the future of the Public Power Corporation but acknowledged “transitory factors” had caused difficulties. The Environment and Energy Ministry said the fears were largely unfounded and accused New Democracy of paving the way for the full privatization of the company.”