ATHENS – If he gets enough votes to win a July 25 second round of elections without needing a coalition partner, New Democracy leader and former Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his next Cabinet would have more female ministers.
He’s favored to repeat a rout in the May 21 first elections which saw his party beat the major opposition SYRIZA by more than 20 percent but fall six votes short of a parliamentary majority.
That was because when it was in power before being ousted in July, 2019 snap elections, SYRIZA changed the electoral laws to remove a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament for the first place finisher in a bid to prevent single-party rule.
New Democracy amended that to provide a sliding scale up to 50 seats in the second round but if more than five parties – as happened in the first ballot – pass a 3 percent threshold to gain seats it could prevent Mitsotakis from a majority.
That would mean either a partner or a third election but after news stories indicating how few women there were in his government previously he said that this time some changes would be made in the Cabinet.
That’s also because he said he will add another position, that of a Demographics and Housing Policy Ministry and that he will divide the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, which was largely blamed for failing to put safety measures on railways after a crash killed 57 people.
He hasn’t tipped his hand who his choices would be and suggested there will likely not be an outright overhaul, ministry positions generally awarded not on experience or ability but rewarding loyalists.
While warning against complacency that could hold down the vote he’s already planning his policies, including taxes after he said that despite near 6 percent growth in 2022 that there wasn’t enough money to cut a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food.
And while touting his success in luring more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and tourism on a path to bust records and bring in more than 20 billion euros ($21.43 billion,) he said he won’t be able to lower income tax rates as high as 45 percent.
He told ANT1 TV that he has no hidden agendas and that SYRIZA does, especially wanting to increase taxes and he said he kept to his 2019 pre-election promises in his first term.
“New Democracy will continue the tax-cutting policy,” Mitsotakis said, although he didn’t say if that would reduce the food on tax that’s especially onerous to low-and-middle-income individuals and families.