Greek elections: Mitsotakis hails conservative win as mandate for reform
After winning the second election in a month, Greek conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he now has a “strong mandate” for reform.
With most of the votes counted, his New Democracy party (ND) won 40.5% of the vote, almost 23 points ahead of Syriza.
In an attempt to win a majority, he called new elections in May.
He told eager supporters in Athens that ND is now Europe’s most powerful center-right party.
In the aftermath of a severe debt crisis and three international bailouts, Mr Mitsotakis is credited with restoring stability and growth to the Greek economy.
Despite the cost-of-living crisis, Greek voters chose to remain loyal to the party that promised lower taxes and better health care.
After a tragedy off the coast of Greece in which about 500 migrants drowned, the vote came 11 days later.
Despite three days of mourning, the disaster had little effect on the election campaign, and Greeks voted to maintain economic stability.
As Mitsotakis realized the extent of his victory, he declared, “We have a safe majority.” Major reforms would be implemented immediately.
As a result of Sunday’s election, his move to call an election in order to form a stable, single-party government was vindicated.
A second election in Greece awards a bonus of between 20 and 50 seats to the largest party. Almost 40% of the votes were cast for New Democracy, which won all 50 seats.
Mitsotakis said New Democracy’s goal is to improve Greece’s public health services and education, but that he couldn’t promise miracles.
The Syriza party of former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was soundly defeated in the first election and further weakened in the second, with less than 18% of the vote. According to him, members of his party will decide whether to resign.
Newly created far-right Spartans party won almost 4.7% of the vote, crossing the 3% threshold to enter parliament.
In the midst of the Supreme Court’s ban on another far-right party, the Greeks, the Spartans emerged as a political force this month when its jailed founder, Ilias Kasidiaris, threw his weight behind them.
Kasidiaris was the spokesman for the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which was banned as a criminal organization and its leaders sentenced to prison.
Three hard-right parties, including the nationalist Greek Solution and the ultraconservative Niki (Victory), won close to 13% of the vote.
It is unusual for a party to increase its share after a first term in office, as Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s 55-year-old victory over Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza is.
Additionally, he was able to attract more young voters than his rival.