22 Mar 2023, 09:25

Greek prime minister announces May elections after rail disaster

ATHENS, March 22, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Tuesday that the country would hold a general election in May, as his government faces widespread anger over a train disaster that killed 57 people in February.

"I can tell you with certainty that the elections will take place in May," he said in an interview with TV channel Alpha.

The conservative government's mandate expires in early July.

According to local media, elections had initially been planned for April, but the collision between two trains, the worst rail accident in Greek history, stunned the nation and led to a change in plans.

The train disaster sparked weeks of angry and occasionally violent protests, and struck a massive blow to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his government ahead of the elections.

Most of the victims were university students returning from a long holiday weekend.

Greece's transport minister resigned after the disaster, while the stationmaster on duty during the accident and three other railway officials have been charged and face possible life sentences.

But railway unions had long been warning about problems, claiming the network was underfunded, understaffed and accident-prone after a decade of spending cuts.