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Greece Elections 2012: Voting, Procedures, Threshold, Results Schedule

On Sunday, May 6th 2012,  ballot boxes in 5,000 polls will be open from “sunrise to sunset”, that is from 7 am until 7 pm. Thirty-two political parties are competing for voters’ preference. Voting is mandatory is Greece, however no penatlies or sanctions have ever been enforced to those who do not cast their votes.

Voting Procedure

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.

Votes Counting & First Results

Immediately after the closing of the ballot boxes, the votes counting starts. A process that may last until the early morning hours of Monday.

Interior Minister Tasos Yannitsis, responsible for the voting, said on Friday that the first official political (rates and parliament seats distribution) results are expected at 11:00-11:30 pm as there may be a big number of parties entering the Parliament that would demand a parliament seats re-distribution.

Technically the counting system can start releasing the first results at 9:00-9:30 pm, at a sample of  10%-13% of the polls.

Technically, practically and politically, first reliable results are expected when votes counting from 50% of the polls has reached the central system.

Exit Polls

Almost at the same time, when the polls close at 7 pm, the exit polls, that is the results of randomly asked voters about what they voted, will be broadcast via four Greek television channels. This gives a preliminary taste about the outcome of the elections.

Votes & Parliament Seats Allocation

Opinion polls suggested that 8 to 10 political parties will enter the parliament at these elections. The norm has been five parties until now.

250 seats will be distributed on the basis of proportional representation, with a threshold of 3% for entry into parliament. The other 50 seats will be awarded to the leading party (see: Greek election law). Parliamentary majority is achieved by a party or coalition of parties that command at least one half plus one (151 out of 300) of total seats. Blank and invalid votes, as well as votes cast for parties that fall short of the 3% threshold, are disregarded for seat allocation purposes.

Forming a Government

A party needs at least 44% of the votes to be able to win the absolute majority and form one party government. However due to the Greek-style ‘proportional representation’ system that gives the 50-seats bonus, things are not that easy.

According to Greek election law, the bigger the number of the parties entering the parliament, the higher percentage is needed.

“The law helps the first past the post party to achieve an absolute (151 out of 300 parliamentary seats) majority, provided it tallies about 39% of the total vote: this is supposed to enhance governmental stability. Specifically, the new electoral law, which will be used for the first time in the election on 6th May 2012, reserves 50 parliamentary seats for the “first past the post” party or coalition of parties, and apportions the remaining 250 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. The previous law (used in the 2009 legislative elections) was less favorable for the leading party, as only 40 additional seats were reserved for them.”

Read more about the forming a government procedure in KTG-article What will happen if No party Wins Absolute Majority


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.

Anonymous Hackers’ Warning

Two days ago, the international hackers group Anonymous released a video warning that it will “attack” the system processing the elections results. Interior Minister Yannitsis said that “we have been prepared at the best possible way.”

More and useful information about the Greece Parliamentary Elections 2012, you can find also Here and Here

PS KTG will have an Elections  Live-Blogging starting shortly after 6 pm (Greek Time) on May 6th, 2012

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  1. Think a lot of people will appreciate this!
    One minor point at Voting Procedure: In some countries you have one big ballot paper with all the parties and candidates on them. Here you have for every party a separate ballot-paper. You step into the voting booth, throw away all the other 30 or so ballots and cross the name(s) on the ballot-paper of ‘your’ party. That’s right, isn’t it?
    One other nicety about the Greek voting system: I read that if a lot of votes go to parties that do NOT pass the threshold of 3%, and some estimates are that this could amount to 10% of the votes instead of the usual couple %, the percentage needed to get a majority actually falls below the 39% and even a result as low as 34% might then be enough… That’s a nice one to think about in the polling booth.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      1) yes or you take them with you and throw them at Silvester party
      2) ??????????

      • 1) or light the tsaki with it.

        Exactly what percentage of the vote they would need is not clear as it will depend on how well the parties who don’t enter Parliament fare on election day. The better they do, the easier it will be for PASOK and ND to combine their forces to get the minimum of 151 seats to form a government. In 2009, the aggregate percentage of the parties that failed to make it into Parliament was less than 5 percent. If this is repeated on Sunday, the next government needs close to 39 percent of the vote for a majority.

        However, it is likely that this time the support that goes to smaller, non-parliamentary parties will be higher. Some opinion polls were putting it at close to 10 percent a few weeks ago. If this is accurate, the threshold for forming a government would be less than 37 percent.

        There is also a paper Malkoutzis wrote for the Eberhart Stiftung where he explains this in more detail.

        • While I am posting that reply it suddenly dawns on me that it is not clear if he talks in the second part about non-parliamentary parties that now WILL become parliamentary or not… Suddenly I feel tired *sigh*

          • OK. Quote from the pdf:

            If support for the parties that remain outside Parliament combines to make 3 per cent, then the winning party or the parties that will form a coalition will need to get 39.2 per cent of the vote. If the unsuccessful parties garner a combined vote of 10 per cent, the threshold for the winning party or the coalition drops to 36.4 per cent. The latest Public Issue poll predicted that the non-parliamentary parties would get a total of 9 per cent.

            Now I know why I never wanted to become a journalist. To many text to plough through. And One Picture Speaks Volumes! 😆

          • keeptalkinggreece

            Pisces are usually laconic except when they get talkative attacks lol

          • keeptalkinggreece

            you see? same happened to me with percentages

        • keeptalkinggreece

          I found out I developed a sudden-aversion attack about perentages and scenarios. Need a doc!

  2. Clinton Dawkins

    Thank you for the wonderfully informative article!