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Politics

Time is on Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ Side: Magazine Lauds Premier’s TikTok Style

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis may look and sound stiff in public but his aides have created an image of him built around TikTok to dispel that – his favorite rock group is Guns ‘n Roses – and he can boast about his achievements early in his second term.

In a mostly glowing profile, Time Magazine World Affairs Editor Adam Rasmi painted a picture of an unlikely Conservative who legalized same-sex marriage, is a social liberal – but wants to keep out refugees and migrants – fiscally responsible and progrowth.

He’d spent the past 20 years in politics trying to close the gap between what people thought of him- as someone who “wears a tie” and is “proper” – and his more lighthearted side. “TikTok bridged that, completely,” said chief economic advisor Alex Patelis.

https://time.com/6970097/mitsotakis-interview-greece-economy/

Mitsotakis addresses his followers on the social media site that the United States is looking at banning amid worries it’s a spying device for the Chinese government that uses state hackers to breach political and business and infrastructure sites.

Ironically – the piece noted it – while he was given high marks across the board otherwise for luring foreign investors and speeding a recovery from a 2010-18 economic and austerity crisis, Mitsotakis is still struggling with the aftermath of a phone bugging scandal and complaints about Predator spyware, which he said his government isn’t using.

Patelis says TikTok is a key factor in showing a side of Mitsotakis that isn’t so wooden and has a softer side.  “We are very biased, but I honestly believe it’s the best TikTok of any politician in the world,” said Patelis.

“There’s a respect for this McKinsey, Harvard-educated guy. A Greek done good. Competent, gets things done,” said Kevin Featherstone, a Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science who specializes in contemporary Greece.

“But he looks awkward, slightly nervous when talking to ordinary people,” he said of Mitsotakis, who is not naturally glib or charming, the magazine noting the success of social media in transforming his appearance.

That may be why his TikToks have resonated—and why Mitsotakis’ aides are keen to highlight he’s not so different after all, the magazine said, aides hoping to demonstrate that despite his upper-crust Ivy League (Harvard) and Stanford education and working for big business that he can relate to the little guy – which his critics said he can’t.

A QUESTION OF BELIEF

Scion of a prominent political family whose name and lineage carry hefty weight –  his father Konstantinos was Prime Minister and had been arrested and put under house arrest during a military coup in 1967 – Mitsotakis is carrying on the family name.

He said he’s he’s found an “interesting sweet spot” that he calls the “new triangulation,” and has trophies on his desk reminding of his crushing victories over the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA in 2019 and again in 2023.

Since then he’s brought a roaring recovery to a Greek economy that shrank 25 percent during the crisis that hammered workers, pensioners and the poor while protecting the rich and Parliament workers – but which is ahead of only Bulgaria.

Curiously, that’s despite growth of almost 6 percent in 2023 on the back of record tourism and the 2022 lifting of health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Greece returning to investment grade status and The Economist ranking Greece the world’s top economic performer for 2023.

“But it’s ultimately the aura of professionalism that leaves millions of Greeks feeling he is the best candidate for the job,” the magazine said, with the notoriously volatile stock market roaring again – it has before only to crash.

Not everything is guns and rosy. His government was accused by families of a February, 2023 head-on train crash that killed 57, mostly college students, of covering up the real reasons. He denied it but three-fourths of Greeks don’t believe him.

He also denied pushbacks of refugees and that a Greek Coast Guard vessel monitoring a boat full of refugees and vessels that sank in international waters near Greece was responsible for the capsizing.

The investigation – like that into the train wreck – is being kept secret from the public and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) said his office is obstructing its investigation as the European Union said has happened with the shipwreck.

But Mitsotakis is riding high in polls on the back of a Show Them The Money approach with the economy accelerating, even though it’s not much helping households dealing with soaring supermarket prices and a sense he’s for the rich.

He’s reaching out to international conglomerates and Information Technology companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft who have put more than $1 billion into Greece, creating thousands of jobs and the unemployment rate falling.

But the healthcare system is a miserable mess – his government is trying to recruit more doctors, including those who fled the country during the crisis – and yet Mitsotakis is leaps and bounds ahead of a disjointed leftist opposition. Tik Tok.

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