New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks during a pre-election rally at Syntagma Square in Athens.

Greece’s conservative New Democracy party won the country’s parliamentary election, with voters giving reformist Kyriakos Mitsotakis another four-year term as prime minister.

Official results from nearly 90% of polling centers across the country on Sunday (25) showed Mitsotakis’ party with just over 40% of the vote, while its main rival, the left-wing Syriza party, suffered a crushing defeat with just under 18%, even more dramatic than its 20% in the last May elections.

Mitsotakis hailed the “strong mandate” after the landslide victory. “The people gave us a secure majority. Major reforms will proceed quickly,” he said in a televised address.

New Democracy is projected to win about 157 or 158 of the 300 seats in parliament, due to a change in the electoral law that grants bonus seats to the winning party. The previous election in May, conducted under a system of proportional representation, left the party five seats short of a majority despite winning 41% of the vote. Now, Mitsotakis secures a large parliamentary majority to support the government.

Mitsotakis, a graduate of Harvard University, comes from one of Greece’s most prominent political families. His late father, Constantine Mitsotakis, served as Prime Minister in the 1990s, his sister served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and his nephew is the Mayor of Athens. He has pledged to rebrand Greece as a pro-business and fiscally responsible member of the euro zone.

The strategy has so far worked: New Democracy defeated leftist opponents in May, conquering socialist strongholds on the island of Crete and low-income areas around Athens, some for the first time.

Struggle for political survival

The economy was the subject of debate for voters. Hence, the electorate’s confidence in the reformist party, rather than Syriza, which has failed to guarantee Greece’s growth higher than any other member of the European Union.

Mitsotakis’ main rival was Alexis Tsipras, 48, the leader of the leftist Syriza party, who served as prime minister from 2015 to 2019, during some of the most turbulent years of Greece’s nearly decade-long financial crisis.

Tsipras fared poorly in the May election, coming in a distant second, 20 percentage points behind New Democracy. He has been trying to rally his electoral base, a task complicated by splinter parties formed by some of his former comrades.

His political campaign on the eve of the previous elections was seen by many as very negative, focusing heavily on scandals that hit the Mitsotakis government towards the end of his term.

The Shadow of Tragedy

Sunday’s vote came just over a week after a migrant ship capsized and sank off Greece’s west coast, leaving hundreds dead and missing and calling into question the actions of Greek authorities and the country’s strict migration policy.

The accident occurred when an overcrowded fishing trawler heading from Libya to Italy capsized and sank, drawing criticism over the Greek authorities’ handling of the rescue.

But the disaster, one of the worst in the Mediterranean in recent years, did not heavily influence the election, with domestic economic issues at the forefront of voters’ minds.

The scandals, which included revelations of wiretaps targeting politicians and journalists, and a deadly train crash on Feb. 28 that exposed poor security measures, also failed to dent Mitsotakis’ significant vote gains.

From Aljazira and News Agencies


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