With Resounding Win in Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis Tightens Grip on Power


Source: The New York Times

Reporting from Athens

June 25, 2023


Greek voters on Sunday overwhelmingly re-elected the conservative New Democracy party, preliminary results showed, setting the stage for its leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to strengthen his grip on power with an absolute majority and what he called a “strong mandate” for the foreseeable future.

With his landslide victory, voters appeared to have overlooked his government’s ties to a series of scandals and embraced his promise of continued economic stability and prosperity.

With 91 percent of the votes counted at 9:45 p.m., the party had 40.5 percent, and was poised to win 158 seats in Greece’s 300-member Parliament, far ahead of the opposition Syriza party, which was in second place with 17.8 percent, with 47 seats. The socialist Pasok party took third place, with 12.5 percent, and got 32 seats.

In a statement from his party’s headquarters in Athens, the capital, Mr. Mitsotakis described the results as “a strong mandate, to move more quickly along the road of major changes.”

He also said of those who had voted: “In a resounding and mature way, they put a definitive end to a traumatic cycle of toxicity that had held the country back and divided society.”

Turnout, however, was just over 52 percent, compared with 61 percent in the first elections held in May, according to preliminary results. Earlier on Sunday, Greek television showed images of packed beaches following a final week of campaigning in which politicians had appealed to voters not to forsake their vote for the waves.

New Democracy won the first election in May by 20 percentage points — the largest margin in decades. But it had fallen short of the votes necessary for an absolute majority in Parliament. Mr. Mitsotakis, who as prime minister had overseen a period of economic stability and tough anti-migrant measures, opted to head for a second vote conducted under a system that grants bonus seats in Parliament to the winning party.

The gambit worked.

Now, with an expected solid majority in Parliament, Mr. Mitsotakis will have more freedom in policymaking and will most likely spur international credit rating agencies to lift their ratings on Greece’s bonds — which have lingered in junk status — to the much-coveted investment grade, lowering the country’s borrowing costs.

Mr. Mitsotakis was brought to power in the 2019 election, when his party also won 158 seats. He served as prime minister until May this year, then stepped aside following the inconclusive vote.

He has vowed to continue focusing on prosperity, appealing to voters who seemed to overlook revelations about the wiretapping of an opposition leader by the state intelligence service, a fatal train crash in February that killed 57 people and a catastrophic shipwreck off Greece that killed hundreds of migrants as the government was facing fierce criticism for its hard-line migration policies.

“I never promise miracles,” he said on Sunday, “but I can assure you that I will remain faithful to my duty, with planning, devotion and chiefly hard work.” He added that his second term could “transform” Greece with dynamic growth rates that would increase wages and reduce inequalities, and he vowed, “I will be the prime minister of all Greeks.”

Greece’s economy stabilized under Mr. Mitsotakis after a decade-long financial crisis that shattered Greek society and shook the eurozone. Growth this year has been twice the eurozone’s average, spurred by his government’s tax cuts, while wages and pensions have risen and large investors are again pumping money into the economy.

These achievements have reassured many Greeks who feared a return to the uncertainty and upheaval of the crisis years, analysts say.



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