ATHENS – Still riding the crest of a 20-point thumping of his major rival SYRIZA in May 21’s first round of elections, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the opposition is in tatters.
The Conservatives got 40.79 percent of the vote to SYRIZA’s 20.07 percent – a loss of 11 percent for the Leftists from their July, 2019 snap polls drubbing by New Democracy, leaving the rival leader Alexis Tsipras reeling.
Third was taken by the resurging PASOK-KINAL Movement for Change that got 11.45 percent, a gain of 3.35 percent over four years earlier but the center-left in Greece remains divided, unable to coalesce.
In an interview with Alpha TV from his office a day before a caretaker government takes over he said that, “SYRIZA failed as main opposition and certainly did not participate in efforts for wider agreements. Can PASOK play that role? I don’t know. It continues to give me the impression it wants to return to the glory of the 80s, but we are in 2023. SYRIZA lost 12 percentage points, while PASOK gained 2 – you cannot call this a triumph.”
Because of a change in electoral law brought by the former ruling then Radical Left SYRIZA that removed a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament for the first place finisher, New Democracy fell six seats short of a majority, necessitating a second round June 25.
Mitsotakis’ government amended that law to bring a sliding scale up to 50 seats in the second ballot for the winner, based on a percentage of the vote, and could gain an even bigger majority than the 158 seats it had held.
“We will vote for who will be the government, not who will be the opposition. What happens in the opposition concerns SYRIZA and PASOK. I would like to express the hope that during this electoral period we speak more about policies, about the real problems citizens face. Every citizen voting for ND signs a contract of responsibility with me,” he said.
Mitsotakis said voters also rejected “toxicity, vulgarity,” and populism and analysts said they embraced his pro-business agenda that’s brought a faster recovery with the waning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It became obvious that real society is elsewhere than in the toxic microcosm of the social network media. A great cycle of anger and rage that opened in 2010 has ended. We can be optimistic about the future. I wish and hope that our opponents also learned their lessons,” he said.