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Greece’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his centre-right New Democracy party won Sunday’s election by a landslide, vowing to “transform Greece” in his second term in office.
With more than half of the votes counted, the New Democracy party won 40.5 percent of the vote, enough to rule without a coalition partner. The main opposition party, the left-wing Syriza, scored 17.8 percent, and the centre-left PASOK was third with 12.1 percent.
“Our goals are high and they should be high, for a second term that could change Greece. We have the plan and the experience to make all of this a reality,” Mitsotakis said on Sunday after the first results came in. . He pledged to tackle inequality, improve public services and health care, and accelerate digitization.
Sunday’s election was held after New Democracy came first in May, but fell short of an outright majority. Then Mitsotakis resigned, knowing that early elections would be held under a new electoral law that would give additional seats to the leading party – and their account would be enough for him to form a government without a coalition partner.
“Mitsotakis is now the unique and dominant political figure in Greece, fully controlling his party and parliament,” said Mujtaba Rahman, Managing Director for Europe at Eurasia Group. He said Mitsotakis’ reform agenda has a chance of being implemented, given the lack of constraints from a partner.
Mitsotakis’ win was largely expected, and markets responded positively in the run-up to it, 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 its decade-long economic crisis behind it.
During his campaign, Mitsotakis has repeatedly promised to transform the healthcare and justice system, which are among the slowest in Europe. “It won’t be easy,” said Dimitris Papadimitriou, a professor of political science at Britain’s University of Manchester. “He would come across the most powerful lobbyists in Greece and an ultra-flexible bureaucracy to do so.”
The left opposition failed to coalesce into a unified force. “This is not much different from the situation that prevailed in Germany at the height [Angela] “Merkel’s political dominance, during which the centre-left’s support has been split between three parties,” Papadimitriou said.
And the party of Alexis Tsipras, who was prime minister in 2015-2019 when Greece was on the brink of financial collapse and facing an exit from the eurozone, shrank even further. Syriza trailed the ruling party by more than 22 points, raising questions about Tsipras’ leadership while in opposition and his future.
A number of fringe parties from the far left and right will also be part of the new parliament. Papadimitriou said one in three voters chose anti-regime, anti-democratic parties – indicating discontent in a segment of society that Mitsotakis must take into account.
One surprise entry into parliament is a new far-right party, the Spartans, founded in May and backed by an MP from the former neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. According to analysts, the Spartans, who scored nearly five percent, are a new iteration of the outlawed party – and are likely to continue to polarize society and Parliament on issues such as immigration.
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