Good morning. News while you were sleeping: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend the G7 here in Hiroshima in person, officials told us, in a surprise move that will ensure Russia’s war against Ukraine dominates proceedings. Late last night the US and UK announced new sanctions against Moscow (though equivalent EU measures were conspicuously absent this morning).
Today, our Athens correspondent explains why Greeks will probably need to vote twice to choose their next government, and we have a dispatch from northern Italy where climate change is wreaking destruction.
It’s the economy, stupid
When Greeks head to the polls this Sunday, it will be the first time in over a decade the country is not under any surveillance by its European partners, writes Eleni Varvitsioti.
Context: After years of bailouts and austerity measures following the debt crisis, Greece’s credit rating is about to reach investment grade again. But high inflation weighs on the population, and the country still has one of the highest shares of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
According to the latest polls, the governing party, centre-right New Democracy, holds a significant lead of at least five points over radical-left Syriza. Centre-left party Pasok sits third.
Owing to a change in the electoral law under the previous government, the winner needs an unusually high percentage, more than 45 per cent of votes, to form a government. Based on the polls, no single party will reach that, and hopes for a coalition have faded over the past few days.
Though the numbers could potentially add up if ND and Pasok made a deal, recent statements have made this scenario almost impossible.
“The Greek PM has stepped up his criticism of Pasok leader Nikos Androulakis over the past few days, accusing him of flirting with Syriza, and calling on Pasok voters to turn against him,” said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of risk-analysis company Teneo.
What makes it harder is that Androulakis can’t seem to forget that the Greek intelligence services, under the control of premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis, last year tried to wiretap his phone.
If no government is formed on Sunday, then the party with the most votes will get a three-day mandate to do so, which, if unsuccessful, is followed by a shot for the second and third-best group.
Should all that fail — as is expected — a second vote will take place on July 2. But this time a different electoral system gives a bonus to the winning party. This means the winner needs a lower percentage, and ND could win more comfortably.
The deciding factor will be the economy, which according to polls is voters’ main concern in this election. Who will deal better with the high prices? And who is the best leader to ensure economic stability? That’s what the Greeks will decide.
Chart du jour: Impact assessment
Russia has admitted “problems” with oil and gas revenues, which have fallen to their lowest levels in years thanks to western sanctions. This comes despite Moscow exporting more oil in April than in any month since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
Scorched and drenched
Italy’s northern farming heartland, Emilia Romagna, suffered an extreme drought last summer when its life line, the Po river, was reduced to a trickle.
Now, much of the region is underwater after being hit by severe floods over the past few days, writes Giuliana Ricozzi.
Context: Italy is experiencing increasingly extreme weather as it feels the effects of climate change. In 2022, Italy’s north endured the worst drought in decades as lakes and rivers dried up. Meanwhile, parts of the south were hit by floods and landslides after excessive, unseasonal rains.
This week, between 200 and 500mm of rain — about half of the annual average — fell in just 36 hours and flooded northern villages and farms. The land, still dried out following the drought, was not able to absorb it.
At least 13 people died and thousands have been evacuated. Emilia Romagna’s president, Stefano Bonaccini, has estimated damages of several billions of euros. “This catastrophic event is putting the region under strain, but we will react”, Bonaccini said.
According to agricultural trade body Coldiretti, floods have hit more than 5,000 agribusinesses. Livestock has been lost and thousands of hectares of vineyards and food crops ended up under water. Coldiretti warned that damages could disrupt food production worth €1.2bn.
The government is expected to allocate €30mn euros to get Emilia Romagna back on track, and tax and mortgage payments of flood victims will be suspended.
But with scientists coming with increasingly gloomy predictions, it might not to be the last such event.
What to watch today
G7 summit kicks off in Hiroshima.
Czech foreign minister Jan Lipavský hosts his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Wlachovský in Prague.