Politico Tabs Mitsotakis One of EU’s “Young Guns,” Reform Hope

New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Having transformed his ailing party into a resurgent force, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis was named in an article by the Brussels base of the American website Politico as one of the three young reformers who are keys to the European Union.

In his article “Europe’s Reformist Revival,” Dalibor Rohac, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said the 48-year-old Mitsotakis, whose father was a Prime Minister, is one of Europe’s “young gun politicians,” along with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, 41, and French Labor Minister Myriam El-Khomri, 38.

“Mitsotakis understands well that Greece’s woes are largely self-inflicted,” Rohac wrote of Mitsotakis, who earlier this year won election to lead New Democracy, which last year was whipped twice by the Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who beat a former Premier, Antonis Samaras, and an interim Conservative leader, Evangelos Meimarakis.

“In addition to his background in business – he worked for Chase Manhattan and McKinsey in London – Mitsotakis can claim credit for some genuine reform successes,” the article noted, without adding that as Administrative Reform Minister when New Democracy was ruling in a coalition with the PASOK Socialists that he was in charge of firing public workers and now opposes the austerity measures he supported when serving Samaras.

“The reforms were short lived: the performance evaluations have been since scrapped by SYRIZA and most employees have been hired back,” the analyst says of the ruling leftist party. “Yet Mitsotakis’s reforms attempted to address a serious problem plaguing Greece,” Rohac added.

In January, the Wall Street Journal also praised Mitsotakis as the “Greece’s Glimmer of New Year Hope” for the country and New Democracy.

“In many respects, Mr. Mitsotakis is an unlikely standard-bearer for uncompromising reform of Greece’s corrupt political and economic system,” wrote the paper’s Simon Nixon, who cited the party leaders credentials but noted his shortcomings too.

“He is the son of a former prime minister, albeit one of the few pre-crisis prime ministers to attempt to grapple with Greece’s deep problems, and his elder sister is a former deputy party leader, leaving him vulnerable to the charge that he is just another dynastic politician. Critics also accuse him of lacking charisma and being a poor media performer,” the article said.

According to Nixon, “Mitsotakis was widely regarded as one of the most effective ministers in the previous government, winning respect from Greece’s creditors for his efforts to streamline the dysfunctional public administration and introduce new concepts such as promotion on merit.”