The conservative Mitsotakis wins the Greek elections in a landslide

The conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the current Greek Prime Minister, appeared very smiling last night in Athens.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 14:23
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The conservative Mitsotakis wins the Greek elections in a landslide

The conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the current Greek Prime Minister, appeared very smiling last night in Athens. He had plenty of reason to be satisfied: his party, New Democracy, won the general elections that were held this Sunday in the country. With 80% of the votes counted, the right accumulated 40% of support, a more voluminous result than the polls predicted, and which doubled those achieved by Alexis Tsipras' Syriza, which slowed down to just 20% . It is a monumental slap for the former prime minister who between 2015 and 2019 embodied the hopes of the European radical left.

The result, however, does not allow Mitsotakis to govern alone because he is far from the 45% of votes needed for an absolute majority. These elections were the first to be held with the new proportional system introduced by Syriza, which eliminated the bonus of up to 50 seats for the winning party, in force in previous elections, to favor the formation of coalitions.

During his first term, Mitsotakis again reformed the electoral system to reintroduce this premium, but the Greek Constitution dictates that it cannot enter into force in the legislature immediately following its approval, but in the following elections. Due to this scenario, it is most likely that Greece will be thrown into a repeat election, probably at the beginning of July, in which, if these results are repeated, Mitsotakis will aspire to an absolute majority with the bonus of up to 50 seats . Before that, the country's president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, will have to commission the leaders of the most popular parties to form a government to study whether a coalition is possible, negotiations with little prospect of success.

In his first statements after the victory, Mitsotakis claimed the result as a "political earthquake" and made it clear that he does not want a "fragile government", which is why he opened the door to the second vote. "The result of the polls shows that New Democracy has the support of the people to govern in a strong and autonomous way," he stressed. And he warned: "It is the proof that the citizens have the green light to govern alone".

The liberal prime minister's coup on the table makes it clear that he has won over Greeks with his economic message, after during his first term Greece has experienced rapid growth, foreign investment has increased and debt has fallen by 35 percentage points the last two years. It remained to be seen whether he would suffer electoral attrition. Some analysts have described Mitsotakis' drift as authoritarian, as he has been accused of carrying out red-hot returns of migrants to Turkey and has been implicated in a huge scandal of spying on politicians, journalists and businessmen by the secret services EYP, which has come to affect the telephone of the social democratic leader of Pasok, Nikos Androulakis. Although he acknowledged that they had taken place, he denied being involved or having any knowledge of the affair, despite the fact that after taking power he brought the secret services under his control. Nor has it suffered from the public unrest caused after the train crash in March, which left 57 victims, most of them university students. The accident caused mass demonstrations across the country against the entire system of the Greek establishment.

The Greek vote brings bad news for former Prime Minister Tsipras, who expected Syriza to reach the symbolic threshold of 30% of support, and has fallen 10 points short. Tsipras came to these elections with a more moderate face than eight years ago, with the desire to form a "government of progressive cooperation" that would put an end to the "nightmare" of the right-wing executive of the last four years. He promised to legalize homosexual marriage and protect the rule of law, to try to capitalize on the spying scandal that has sparked New Democracy. It was clear that he would not win, but if he stayed a short distance to the right, he gained chances to come back in the following scrutiny. Now, these hopes have become very complicated.

After Syriza, the social democrats of Pasok-Kinal were left with 12% of the votes, followed by the Communist Party of Greece (7%) and the Greek far-right (4.5%). On the other hand, the left-wing MeRA25, of the popular ex-Minister of Finance Ianis Varoufakis, was left out of Parliament as it did not exceed the necessary threshold of 3% of the votes.