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Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his centre-right party New Democracy won by a landslide in elections on Sunday and pledged to “transform Greece” in his second term in office.
With more than half of the votes counted, New Democracy party won 40.5 per cent of the vote, enough for him to govern without a coalition partner. The main opposition party, leftwing Syriza, scored 17.8 per cent and centre-left Pasok came in third with 12.1 per cent.
“Our goals are high and must be high, in a second term that can transform Greece” said Mitsotakis on Sunday after the first results came in. “We have both the plan and the experience to make all of this a reality,” he said. He pledged to tackle inequality, improve public services and healthcare, and speed up digitalisation.
The Sunday elections were held after New Democracy came in first in May but fell short of an outright majority. Mitsotakis then resigned, knowing that the early elections would be held under a new electoral law that gives bonus seats to the leading party — calculating these would be enough for him to form a government without a coalition partner.
“Mitsotakis is now Greece’s singular and dominant political figure, in full control of his own party and parliament” said Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe at Eurasia Group. He said Mitsotakis’ reformist agenda had a chance to be implemented, given he had no constraints from a partner.
A Mitsotakis win had been largely expected, and markets have reacted positively in the run-up to, with stocks and bonds rallying in the past weeks. The credit rating is likely to be upgraded to investment grade by the end of the year, a sign that Greece has put the decade-long economic crisis behind it.
During his campaign Mitsotakis repeatedly promised to shake up healthcare and justice, which have among the slowest systems in Europe. “It wont be easy,” said Dimitris Papadimitriou, professor of political science at the UK’s University of Manchester. “He will come across the most powerful lobbies in Greece and a super-resilient bureaucracy to do so.”
The leftwing opposition has failed to coalesce into a united force. “This is not too dissimilar to the situation that prevailed in Germany at the height of [Angela] Merkel’s political dominance, during which the centre-left support was split between three parties,” said Papadimitriou.
The party of Alexis Tsipras, premier in 2015-19 when Greece was on the brink of financial collapse and facing an exit from the eurozone, shrank even further. Syriza fell behind the ruling party by more than 22 points, raising questions about Tsipras’ leadership while in opposition and his future.
A number of fringe parties of the extreme left and right will also be part of the new parliament. One in three voters chose anti-systemic, anti-democratic parties — indicating resentment in a segment of society that Mitsotakis will have to take into account, said Papadimitriou.
One surprising entry into the parliament is a new far-right party, the Spartans, founded in May and backed by a jailed MP of the former neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. According to analysts, the Spartans, who garnered close to five per cent, are a new iteration of the banned party — and likely to continue polarising society and parliament over issues such as migration.