Why a new election so soon? The conservative New Democracy party won a (narrow) majority in 2007, and according to Reuters (first link above) polls do not suggest a larger majority (or any at all) is likely to result. In fact, New Democracy may not even win a plurality this time–unusual circumstances in which to have a snap election.
The Times of London suggests that PM Costas Karamanlis may be experiencing troubles within his majority, especially since the drubbing the party took in the recent European elections. The looming election of a new president also is a factor.
Mr Karamanlis said he feared that the Opposition would force an election in March over the choice of a new president and insisted that he wanted to spare the country six months of electioneering at a time when strong government was vital.
Of course, “sparing the country” is unlikely to be the main motivation behind calling the election. More likely, it is a classic case of a parliamentary ruling-party leader using an election call to pull his own party together and fight for a renewed mandate (however unlikely it may be), or else go into opposition (presumably with new leadership) and regroup.
The Times article quotes a “sarcastic… left-leaning tabloid” headline that pretty much sums it up: “I’ve failed — vote for me.”