Greece will hold a national election on May 21, as a cost-of living crisis takes its toll on households. The ruling conservative New Democracy party is so far leading left-wing Syriza in opinion polls.
The vote is likely to be inconclusive and may lead to either a coalition government or a second ballot in July.
Following are pre-election pledges from the two main parties.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative party says he will maintain strong growth and boost wages, to bring them close to the European Union average.
New Democracy says:
– Greece can regain an investment-grade credit rating, achieve medium-term growth of 3.0% and cut public debt to 120% of GDP by 2030 from 171.3% now. It targets inflation of 2.0% in 2025 from 4.5% now.
– The average wage will be raised by more than 25% in 2023-2027, to 1,500 euros from 1,170 euros, with the monthly minimum wage rising to 950 euros from 780 euros. Public sector wages will also be raised by an unspecified percentage from 2024. Pensions will be raised by 3.4% from Jan. 2024.
– Unemployment will fall below 8% by 2027 from 12.7% last year. Social security contributions will be cut by one percentage point.
– Α business tax on the self-employed will be gradually reduced, by 20% in 2025 and 30% in 2026, before being scrapped by 2027.
– The tax-exemption threshold will be increased by 1,000 euros in 2024 to 10,000 euros for households with children.
– Renewables will account for about 80% of power generation by 2030 from about 40% now.
New Democracy says its 2024-2027 programme costs 9.1 billion euros in total and has been budgeted.
Firebrand leftist Alexis Tsipras, prime minister in 2015-2019, the peak of Greece’s debt crisis, says his Syriza party will increase wages and pensions and protect workers.
Syriza plans in its first 50 days in power to:
– Increase the monthly minimum wage to 880 euros from July 1, 2023 and reinstate collective bargaining. It says the minimum wage will be raised annually along with inflation.
– Scrap labour market flexibility and reduce working hours to 35 from 40 per week.
– Immediately increase public sector wages by 10%.
– Reinstate an annual bonus pension for pensions up to 500 euros and raise all pensions by 7.5%.
– Increase the tax-free threshold to 10,000 euros from 9,000 euros currently.
– Cut value-added tax on food products to 6% from 13% and scrap a sales tax on essential goods, such as milk and bread. Reduce a levy on fuels, heating oil and natural gas to the lowest rate in the European Union.
– Suspend auctions of primary residences for properties valued at up to 300,000 euros, until it bans such foreclosures.
– Impose a cap on profit margins in the energy sector and tax energy producers and refineries’ windfall profits. Reduce charges paid by electricity consumers and protect the vulnerable from power cuts due to arrears.
– Decouple power from gas prices.
– Write off part of the arrears owed to pension funds after the pandemic and allow debtors to pay off the rest in 120 instalments.
– Part-nationalise Greece’s power utility Public Power Corp and transfer the stakes in two water companies held by the country’s sovereign wealth fund to the state.
– Abolish Greece’s bank rescue fund HFSF and transfer the stakes it holds in the country’s four largest lenders to the state. Take over management control of one of the four banks.
– Gradually raise tax on dividends above 50,000 euros to 15%.
– Scrap a business tax on self-employed workers.
Syriza puts the cost of its plan at 5.5 billion euros annually, saying that it expects elevated revenues from taxing energy companies’ windfall profits.