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Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his center-right New Democracy party won a landslide victory in Sunday’s elections, vowing to “transform Greece” in his second term.
With more than half the votes counted, the New Democratic Party won 40.5 percent of the vote, enough to govern without a coalition party. The main opposition left-wing Syriza came in third with 17.8 percent and the center-left PASOK with 12.1 percent.
“Our goals are high and high enough that we can turn Greece around,” Mitsotakis said after the first results came in on Sunday. “We have 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 accelerate digitalisation.
Sunday’s elections were held in May after the new democracy first came to power, but fell short of an absolute majority. Mitsotakis later resigned after learning that snap elections would be held under new electoral laws that gave bonus seats to the leading party – enough to count these to form a coalition-free government.
“Mitsotakis is now Greece’s unique 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’s reformist agenda was likely to be implemented if he had no obstacle from a partner.
A Mitsotakis victory was largely expected, and markets have rallied in stocks and bonds in recent weeks, reacting positively to the run. The credit rating is likely to be upgraded to investment grade by the end of the year, a sign that Greece has put a decade-long economic crisis behind it.
During his campaign Mitsotakis repeatedly promised to shake up health and justice, one of the slowest systems in Europe. “It’s not going to be easy,” said Dimitris Papadimitriou, a political science professor at the University of Manchester in England. “He will be meeting the most powerful lobbies in Greece and a super-opposed bureaucracy to do so.”
The Left Opposition could not unite as a united force. “It’s not very different from the situation at the peak in Germany [Angela] “Merkel’s political dominance, during which center-left support was split between three parties,” Papadimitriou said.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s party shrank in 2015-19, when Greece was on the brink of financial collapse and faced exiting the eurozone. SYRIZA trailed the ruling party by more than 22 points, raising questions about Tsipras’ leadership and his future while in opposition.
Several fringe parties of the far left and right will also be part of the new parliament. Papadimitriou said that one in three voters chose anti-establishment, anti-democratic parties — a sign of resentment among a segment of society that Mitsotakis needs to take into account.
A surprise entry into parliament was a new far-right party, the Spartans, founded in May and backed by jailed MP ex-neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. The Spartans, which are close to five percent, according to analysts, are the new iteration of the banned party – and could continue to polarize society and parliament on issues such as migration.