Elections in Greece: Wikis


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Elections in Greece gives information on election and election results in Greece.


Election of the legislature

The Greek Parliament (Vouli ton Ellinon) has 300 members, elected for a four-year term by a system of reinforced proportional representation in 56 constituencies, 48 of which are multi-seat and 8 single-seat, and a single nationwide list. 288 of the 300 seats are determined by constituency voting, and voters may select the candidate or candidates of their choice by marking their name on the party ballot. The remaining 12 seats are filled from nationwide party lists on a top-down basis and based on the proportion of the total vote each party received.

Greek citizens aged 25 and over on the date of the election (and eligible to vote) are also eligible to be elected to Parliament.



Constituencies in Greece have traditionally been multi-seat, and they mostly coincide with prefectures. The number of seats is adjusted once every ten years, following the decennial population census. Prefecture constituencies may not be deprived of representation, nor may they be merged with another prefecture; they may however be split into smaller constituencies if their population increases disproportionately: nevertheless this has not been done since 1967. Population changes have left eight (Kefalonia, Lefkas, Eurytania, Grevena, Samos, Thesprotia, Phocis and Zakynthos) prefectures with a single parliamentary seat each, whereas some urban or suburban constituencies have seen large increases in their seat allotment over the years.

For example the "Athens B" constituency (which includes the major part of the Athens metropolitan area but excludes the Municipality of Athens itself, which forms the "Athens A" constituency) encompasses almost 15% of the country's electorate and consequently elects 42 members of parliament. The "Athens A" constituency elects 17 MPs, "Thessaloniki A" elects 16, Attica (excluding the four Athens and Piraeus A and B constituencies) elects 12, and the remaining constituencies elect single-digit numbers of MPs.


Polling takes place in school buildings on a Sunday, a festive occasion for students who are then given a four-day weekend off. The procedure is run by a presiding judge or attorney-at-law appointed by the local Bar association, and secretarially assisted by local citizens selected by lot in a process resembling jury duty. Local police are available too. Local party representatives are allowed to monitor tallying; their theoretical role is to ensure transparency but in practice they are delegated the roles of ordering food for the exhausted crew.

Traditionally, voting takes place "from sunrise to sunset" but times are usually rounded to the nearest "top of the hour" (e.g. 7 AM to 8 PM). Individual precincts may prolong voting time at the judge's discretion, if there are still voters queueing up to vote. Voters identify themselves by their ID cards and are given the full number of ballot papers for the constituency plus a blank ballot paper and an empty envelope. Then they withdraw to a secluded cubicle equipped with a lectern, pen and waste basket, where they select the ballot paper of their choice, if any, and mark the candidate(s) of their choice, if any; they cast the sealed envelope with the ballot paper in the ballot box and are given their ID card back.

Voters may select specific candidates within the party list of their choice by marking a cross next to the candidate name or names. The maximum allowable number of crosses on the ballot paper depends on the number of seats contested. Signs other than crosses next to a candidate name may mark the ballot as invalid during tallying, as such findings may be construed to violate voting secrecy. Ballot papers with more crosses that the maximum number allowed, or without any cross, are counted in the total party tally but are disqualified during the second part of tallying, i.e. the determination of which individual candidate is elected to a seat already won by the candidate's party.

Once on-the-spot tallying is over and the tallies reported officially, the ballots are sealed and transported to the Central Election Service of the Interior Ministry. There ballots are recounted, mainly in order to ascertain the validity or invalidity of the few ambiguously marked ballot papers. Any unresolved matters following this recount are referred to the specially convened Eklogodikeion (Court of Election), which adjudicates and then officially publishes the names of elected MPs, so that the new Parliament may convene. The Court of Election may reconvene at any time in order to discuss appeals by candidates who failed to be elected, and also to fill seats that become vacant in the case of death or abdication of an MP. Such seats are filled by going down the preference tally of the party list that won the seat in the first place (there are no by-elections in Greece).

A peculiarity of the Greek Parliament is the suffrage given to Greek citizens permanently living abroad (about 7 million people).

Electoral law

Under the current electoral law of "reinforced proportionality", any single party must receive at least a 3% nationwide vote tally in order to elect Members of Parliament (the so-called "3% threshold"). The law in its current form favors the first past the post party to achieve an absolute (151 out of 300 parliamentary seats) majority, provided it tallies about 41.5% of the total vote. This is touted to enhance governmental stability. The previous law (applied in the 2004 legislative elections) was even more favorable for the first party. The current electoral law reserves 40 parliamentary seats for the "first past the post" party or coalition of parties, and apportions the remaining 260 seats proportionally according to each party's total valid vote percentage. This is slightly higher than the raw percentage reported, as there is always a small number of invalidated or "blank" votes (usually less than 1%), as well as the percentage of smaller parties that fail to surpass the 3% threshold, all of which are disregarded for the purpose of seat allotment.

A rather complicated set of rules deals with rounding decimal results up or down, and ensures that the smaller a constituency is, the more strictly proportional its parliamentary representation will be. Another set of rules apportions the 40 seat premium for the largest-tallying party among constituencies. Individual seats are apportioned by "cross of preference". Voters mark a cross next to the name of the candidate or candidates they prefer, the number of crosses varying from one to five depending on constituency size. Ballots with no crosses or more crosses than allowed, count for only the party but not the individual candidates. Tallying is done manually in the presence of representatives of all contesting parties. Party tallying, which is easier, is done first so that returns may be announced quickly. Individual candidate tallying is done next and can take several days. Once the number of seats per party and constituency is determined, the seats are filled on a top-down basis from the individual cross-of-preference tallies. Party heads and acting or past Prime Ministers are exempt from cross-of-preference voting: they are automatically placed at the top of their party list and are elected, provided their party achieves at least one seat in the particular constituency.

By constitutional provision, the electoral law can be changed by simple parliamentary majority, but a law so changed becomes enforced only in the election following the upcoming one, unless a 2/3 parliamentary supermajority (200 or more votes) is achieved. Only in the latter case is the new electoral law effective immediately. A case in point is the current electoral law, which is roughly similar to the previous one, except it allocates a premium of 50 seats, instead of 40, to the first-past-the-post party. Since this law was passed by simple majority, it will not be used for the upcoming election, but for the one after that.

Greek electoral laws since 1974
Law's "trademark" Passed in Passed by Applied in (election year) Approximate nationwide vote percentage needed for an absolute majority of seats in Parliament for the first-past-the-post party Threshold
Reinforced proportionality 1974 NewDemocracyLogo.svg '74, '77, '81, '85 (the premium of seats was reduced) in almost any case (40% and a clear advantage were necessary in '74 elections) none for the first seat allocation (in prefectures), but 17% for the second one in peripheries (this threshold was not in force during '85 elections)
Simple proportionality 1989 PasokLogo.svg '89 (June), '89 (November), '90 47%+ none
Reinforced proportionality 1990 NewDemocracyLogo.svg '93, '96, '00, '04 in almost any case 3%
Reinforced proportionality
2004 PasokLogo.svg '07, '09 41.5%+ 3%
Reinforced proportionality
2007 NewDemocracyLogo.svg According to the Constitution, it will not be in force during the next elections 39%+ 3%


All Greek citizens who are 18 or over on the date of the election are eligible to vote, provided they are on the electoral register, unless:

  • they are imprisoned for a criminal offence and they have been expressly deprived of the right to vote by judicial decision (this happens only in the rare cases of high treason or mutiny). Incarcerated persons vote in polling stations specially set up inside prisons
  • they are mentally incapable of making a reasoned judgement, according to a judicial decision. In practice, this applies only to a percentage of institutionalised mental patients

In the past, citizens who reached adulthood had to register and were issued an "election booklet" with which they voted. Nowadays, registration for voters is not needed: it is done automatically as each citizen comes of age. Proof of identity is done by state-issued ID cards or passport. Special registration is necessary only for absentee voting, which is done at the place of a voter's temporary residence on election day. Many Greeks choose to retain their voting rights in their family's original home, sometimes by reason of tradition, sometimes by reason of patronage. The Constitution provides, following the amendment of 2001, for the right of Greek citizens living abroad to vote for the legislative elections. Nevertheless, no law implementing the constitutional provision has yet been passed.

Compulsory voting is the law in Greece however it is not enforced. In the past, a citizen had to present an up-to-date election booklet in order to be issued a driver's license or a passport, or else justify why they did not vote (eg because of absence, infirmity, or advanced old age). Nowadays the civic duty of voting is still considered "mandatory", but there are no sanctions for failing to vote. Turnout is usually high, typically between 70 and 80% for legislative elections and slightly lower for local administrative and European Parliament ones.

Party system

Before 1910, Greece lacked a coherent party system in accordance with the traits of the modern representative democracy. The political formations of the 19th century lacked a steady organizational structure and a clear ideological orientation. Sometimes, they constituted just the incoherent and ephemeral escort of a prominent politician.

The first Greek parties with an ideological background, conforming to the modern conception of a political party, appeared after 1910, when Eleftherios Venizelos rose to predominance in Greek political life and founded his Liberal Party. The liberal wave of Venizelism resulted soon in the reaction of the "old-system" political leaders, who formed the core of an opposing conservative movement, which used the monarchy as its main rallying banner. Thereby, the two biggest ideological movements, the republican centrist-liberal and the monarchist conservative, emerged and formed massive political organizations. The centrist and the conservative parties bitterly confronted each other in the ensuing legislative elections for many decades, until metapolitefsi. After the metapolitefsi of 1974, the leftist-socialist movement supplanted the centrists and took the main part of their electorate. A smaller part of erstwhile centrists, along with most conservatives, affiliated themselves with the centre-right New Democracy party, which self-defined as a liberal party and drafted the republican Constitution of 1975.

Nowadays, Greece has a two-party system, which means that there are two dominant political parties, the liberal-conservative New Democracy (ND) and the socialist PASOK, with extreme difficulty for anybody to achieve electoral success under the banner of any other party.

The left is mainly represented by the Communist Party of Greece and the Coalition of the Radical Left. Recent years have seen the gradual emergence of a staunchly conservative, populist party, the Popular Orthodox Rally, with a platform based on nationalistic, religious and immigration issues.

Greek parties in government since 1974
Parties '74 '77 '81 '85 '89 '89 '90 '93 '96 '00 '04 '07 '09
NewDemocracyLogo.svg New Democracy (ND) X X X X X X X
PasokLogo.svg Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) X X X X X X X
Logo of the Communist Party of Greece.svg Communist Party of Greece (KKE) (as part of Synaspismos) X X
Sima2.PNG Synaspismos X X

Latest election


e • d  Summary of the 7 June 2009 European Parliament election results
Parties Leader Party group Votes % +/– Seats +/–
Panhellenic Socialist Movement George Papandreou PES 1,878,859 36.64 +2.61 8 ±0
New Democracy Kostas Karamanlis EPP-ED 1,655,636 32.29 -10.72 8 -3
Communist Party of Greece Aleka Papariga EUL-NGL 428,283 8.35 -1.13 2 -1
Popular Orthodox Rally Georgios Karatzaferis ID 366,615 7.14 +3.02 2 +1
Coalition of the Radical Left Alekos Alavanos EUL-NGL 240,898 4.70 +0.54 1 ±0
Ecologist Greens 6-member committee Greens-EFA 178,964 3.49 +2.88 1 +1
Panhellenic Macedonian Front Stelios Papathemelis 65,177 1.27 0
Party of Greek Hunters Giorgos Tsagkanelias 64,782 1.27 0
Drasi Stefanos Manos et al. 38,895 0.76 0
Ecologists Greece K. Papanikolas 33,236 0.65 0
Greek Ecologists Dimosthenis Vergis 31,188 0.61 +0.07 0
Popular Union-Chrysi Avyi N. Michaloliakos 23,566 0.46 0
Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow 13-member committee 21,951 0.43 0
Union of Centrists Vassilis Leventis 19,660 0.38 -0.18 0
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party A. Papadopoulous et al. 13,142 0.26 -0.09 0
Lefko Kostas Dalios 10,572 0.21 0
Koinonia Emmanouil Voloudakis 7,964 0.16 0
Hellenic Direct Democracy Movement Giorgos Kokkas 7,916 0.15 0
Liberal Party-Libertas.eu Manolis Kaligiannis Libertas.eu 6,485 0.13 0
Youth Party Kyriakos Topsoglou 6,224 0.12 0
Workers Revolutionary Party Sabetai Matsas 6,048 0.12 0
Fighting Socialist Party Nikos Kargopoulos et al. 5,624 0.11 -0.09 0
European Free Alliance-Rainbow S. Anastasiadis EFA 4,530 0.09 -0.01 0
Liberal Alliance Fotis Perlikos ALDE 4,348 0.08 0
Greek Unity Vasileios Protopapas 3,105 0.06 0
Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece Ilias Zafiropoulos et al. 2,807 0.05 -0.03 0
Patriotic Humanitarian Movement Georgios Dontas 762 0.01 0
Valid votes 5,127,237 100.00 22
Invalid votes 72,791 1.38
Blank votes 61,008 1.16
Total votes 5,261,036
Electorate 9,995,992
Turnout 52.63 %


e • d  Summary of the 4 October 2009 Greek Parliament election results
Parties Leaders Votes  % +/– Seats +/–
Panhellenic Socialist Movement George Papandreou 3,012,373 43.92 +5.82 160 +58
New Democracy Kostas Karamanlis 2,295,967 33.48 −8.38 91 −61
Communist Party Aleka Papariga 517,154 7.54 −0.61 21 −1
Popular Orthodox Rally Georgios Karatzaferis 386,152 5.63 +1.83 15 +5
Coalition of the Radical Left Alexis Tsipras 315,627 4.60 −0.44 13 −1
Ecologist Greens Six-member committee 173,449 2.53 +1.48 0
Democratic Revival Stelios Papathemelis 30,856 0.45 −0.35 0
Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow[A] D. Desillas, et al. 24,737 0.36 +0.04 0
Greek Ecologists Dimosthenis Vergis 20,019 0.29 +0.27 0
Popular Union-Chrysi Avyi Nikolaos Michaloliakos 19,636 0.29 0
Union of Centrists Vassilis Leventis 18,278 0.27 −0.02 0
Koinonia Emmanouil Voloudakis 10,682 0.16 0
Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) Gr. Konstantopoulos, et al. 10,213 0.15 −0.10 0
Democrats M. Meletopoulos 7,611 0.11 0
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party Antonis Papadopoulos, et al. 5,506 0.08 −0.03 0
Workers Revolutionary Party Sabetai Matsas 4,536 0.07 0
Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece Ilias Zafiropoulos, et al. 1,652 0.02 −0.01 0
I Give Away Land, I Give Away Debts - Panagrarian Labour Movement of Greece[B] M. Tzalazidis 1,376 0.02 0
Smoking Groups for Art and Artistic Creation[C] Nikos Louvros 1,355 0.02 0
Light – Truth – Justice[B] Konstantinos Melissourgos 867 0.01 ±0 0
Independents 277 0.00 ±0 0
Regional Urban Development[C] Nikolaos Kolitis 8 0.00 0
Friends of Man[C] K. Stamoulis 8 0.00 0
Old Republic[C] A. Daskalopoulos 3 0.00 0
Valid votes 6,858,342 97.36
Invalid votes 143,658 2.04
Blank votes 42,479 0.60
Totals 7,044,479 100.00 300
Electorate and voter turnout 9,933,385 70.92
Source: Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration, and Decentralization, with 20,937 (100.00%) of 20,937 total precincts reporting as of 06:53, October 7 (UTC)
A The results of the Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow are compared with the sum of the 2007 results of United Anti-Capitalist Left and Radical Left Front.
B The party is running in two parliamentary constituencies.
C The party is running in one parliamentary constituency.

Election of the President of the Republic

The flag of the President of Greece

The head of state - the President of the Hellenic Republic - is elected by Parliament for a five-year term, and a maximum of two terms in office. Eligible for President is any person who:

  • has the Greek citizenship for at least 5 years,
  • has a father or a mother of Greek origin,
  • is 40 years old or more,
  • is eligible to vote.

When a presidential term expires, Parliament votes to elect the new President. In the first two votes, a 2/3 majority (200 votes) is necessary. The third and final vote requires a 3/5 (180 votes) majority. If the third vote is fruitless, Parliament is dissolved and elections are proclaimed by the outgoing President within the next 30 days. In the new Parliament, the election for President is repeated immediately with a 3/5 majority required for the initial vote, an absolute majority (151 votes) for the second one and a simple majority for the third and final one. The system is so designed as to promote consensus Presidential candidates among the main political parties.

Elected Presidents of the Third Hellenic Republic (1974-)

The insignia of the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic
From-To President Supported by Elected in the
June 19, 1975 - May 15, 1980 Constantine Tsatsos NewDemocracyLogo.svg first vote
May 15, 1980 - March 10, 1985 Constantine Karamanlis NewDemocracyLogo.svg third vote
March 30, 1985 - May 4, 1990 Christos Sartzetakis PasokLogo.svgLogo of the Communist Party of Greece.svg third vote
May 4, 1990 - March 10, 1995 Constantine Karamanlis NewDemocracyLogo.svg second vote
(after elections)
March 10, 1995 - March 11, 2000 Kostis Stephanopoulos PasokLogo.svgPolan.png third vote
March 11, 2000 - March 12, 2005 Kostis Stephanopoulos NewDemocracyLogo.svg PasokLogo.svg first vote
March 12, 2005 - March 13, 2010 Karolos Papoulias NewDemocracyLogo.svg PasokLogo.svg first vote

European Parliament elections

Greece has had a Delegation of Members of the European Parliament in the European Parliament since Greek accession to the EU in 1984. Originally, the Greek delegation numbered 25, but after 2004 that was reduced to 24 (due to the increase of the EU member countries). In 2009, it was further reduced to 22. These MEPs are elected every 5 years on the basis of a Party-list proportional representation electoral system. In the European elections, the whole country forms a single electoral area (constituency).

Presently, there are six Greek parties represented in the European Parliament: New Democracy, PASOK, Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and Ecologist Greens.

Local elections

Local elections elect super-prefects, prefects, and mayors for the country's 3 super-prefectures, 54 prefectures, 900 municipalities and approximately 135 communities, as well as the councillors to serve on the super-prefectural, prefectural, municipal and community councils.

According to the current voting system, the poll-leading candidate (and her or his list) polling more than 42 percent of the vote in the first round of voting is elected to the public office they were contesting, i.e. super-prefect, prefect, mayor (in a municipality) or president (in a community). If no candidate attains this percentage, a second round of voting takes place between the two poll-topping candidates from the first round. In elections at the community level there is no second round, i.e. the election is won by the first past the post list. The 42 percent threshold was introduced in a legal reform of 2006. Previously, the threshold stood at 50 percent in the first round.

The first prefectural elections took place in 1994 (Law 2218/1994). Previously, prefects were executive appointees. In both municipal and prefectural elections, the winning candidacy list is guaranteed a minimum three-fifths majority in the respective councils.

Prefectural and municipal elections are held every four years, traditionally in October. The last local elections took place on October 15, 2006.

Past local elections since 1974


All the plebiscites conducted in Greece from 1920 to 1974 have had to do with the form of government, namely retention/reestablishment or abolition of the monarchy. The last plebiscite of 1974 is deemed final and conclusive with regards to the matter of the head of the Greek state and the choice of the constitutional model of the parliamentary republic, because of the overwhelming majority favoring abolition of the monarchy and the free and fair manner in which the plebiscite was conducted:

King Constantine II
King George II
King Constantine I

The current Constitution provides for two kinds of referenda:

  • a referendum concerning a "passed law"
  • a referendum concerning a matter of "national interest".

Nonetheless, these constitutional provisions have not yet been enacted into law and therefore there is no procedure for a referendum to be held.


See also

Further reading

  • Lyrintzis, Christos (March 2005). "The Changing Party System: Stable Democracy, Contested 'Modernisation'". West European Politics 28 (2): 242–259.  
  • Nicolacopoulos, Ilias (March 2005). "Elections and Voters, 1974-2004: Old Cleavages and New Issues". West European Politics 28 (2): 260–278.  

External links


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