Friday, June 15, 2012
A Practical Guide to the (Second) Greek Elections
Wall Street Journal
June 12, 2012
Key Dates and Times
The election will take place on Sunday, June 17. Polls open at 4 a.m. GMT and close at 4 p.m. GMT. The so-called exit polls, i.e. estimates of the vote outcome based on a random sample of voters collected as they exit the polling stations, are released immediately after 5 p.m GMT (1 p.m. ET).
Votes start being counted as polls close, but the process normally goes on until the early hours of the next morning. Due to the fragmentation of the popular vote in these elections, results in some areas could be too close to call, warranting waiting for final results to come in from the Interior Ministry.
Something important is very different from the May 6 election. The Greek constitution says that if elections are held within 18 months of the previous ones, the voting method changes. Voters this time around will not be able to pick candidates from their party of choice by putting a cross next to their names. Instead, they will only vote for their party of choice. The parties have allocated the places to their candidates hierarchically, putting the candidates they prefer at the top of their so-called “list”. The candidates elected from each party will be determined as a function of what share of the vote their party gets, in the order they were ranked by their leaders. Ballots where voters have put a cross next to candidates’ names will be considered invalid.
Twenty-one parties parties are competing in these elections. On May 6, the figure was 32. The most recent polls suggest that seven parties will elect deputies. Indeed, seven parties made it in the short-lived parliament after the May 6 election. In the past, a five-party parliament has been the norm. The latest polls show that the conservative New Democracy and radical left Syriza are at dead heat. Neither was seen as likely to get an outright majority.