Athens Digest 05.07.2019

• Final polling backs conservative majority

• Mitsotakis: Creditors will give reform-oriented government “more leeway”

• Focus on Hellenikon delays ahead of poll

• New setback for Crete-Attica power link project 

# Ahead of Sunday’s general election, final opinion poll results indicate Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy is closing in on a parliamentary majority. A Pulse survey published last night gave the conservatives an 8-point advantage with a projected 36 percent of the vote, followed by Syriza at 28, the Movement for Change at 7 percent, KKE at 5 percent, Golden Dawn at 4 percent, and the far-right Greek Solution as well as Varoufakis’ MeRA25 both struggling to gain entry at 3 percent. Undecided vote is 7.5 percent. Pulse’s seat projection scenarios for New Democracy _ 155 to 159 MPs _ both providing a majority in parliament (300 seats). At the same time, a Public Issue survey projects that New Democracy will win with a huge lead of 15.5 points and secure a minimum of 165 seats in parliament (ND 42.5 percent, Syriza 27). Politico’s “poll of polls” for Greece, meanwhile, is giving the conservatives a 10.9-point advantage.

# Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he believes Greece’s creditors will back his drive to lower taxes and ease primary surplus targets. The opposition leader and election front runner told The Associated Press in an interview that his aim was to clear away a legacy of mistrust of Athens. “I will be having an honest discussion with our partners about reducing primary surplus targets. They are too excessive,” he said. “The reason why they were put in place had to do with the fact that there was zero confidence in Mr Tsipras and unfortunately in Greece to deliver reforms. A committed reform-oriented government should have more leeway.”

# The New Democracy leader promised a swift restart to the delayed Hellenikon coastal development project. Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Real FM radio that existing government decisions on would be revised as a priority to start the construction phase of the EUR 8 billion venture. As reported by the Athens Digest earlier this week, the project ran into fresh difficulties after the Culture Ministry insisted on a more detailed assessment process for permits. The Athens-based consortium leader Lamda Development accused the ministry of “systematic and organised efforts and create serious bureaucratic obstacles, adversely affecting the project (timetable) and budget.”

# Plans to build a new power link between Crete and Attica have suffered a setback after a Greek arbitration body suspended several tenders key to the project. The development follows a dispute between project operator Euroasia Interconnector and Ariadne, a subsidiary of the Greek grid operator ADMIE. The venture is part of plan to create an east Mediterannean interconnector between Greek, Cypriot, and Israeli power grids.

On our Radar: Giannis on his Greek Dream
Two days before the general election, basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo says he hopes Greece can develop a champion’s mentality. “I’ll say it basketball terms,” the 24-year-old Milwaukee Bucks player told the Greek edition of Forbes magazine. “I would like us to regain the element that makes the difference between an average team and a champion, to all play as one, putting our egos to one side and showing respect for the needs of our teammates. Fortunately, we’ve inherited everything else we need.” Asked about his views on investing money, he added: “I am methodical and cautious by nature and prefer low-risk investments that spread capital in different sectors. But if there was an idea that could change people’s living standards I’d be happy to risk time and money. At the end of the day it’s all about the legacy you leave behind”.