Greece's ruling New Democracy sweeps elections, eyes outright majority

Prime Minister Mitsotakis' party wins big as main opposition Syriza performs worse than expected

10:12 . 22/05/2023 Monday
File photo

File photo

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ ruling New Democracy (ND) party won a landslide victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections on Sunday but fell short of securing enough seats to form a government.

Partial results from nearly 90% of polling stations showed ND with 40.80% of the vote, followed by ex-Premier Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza with a paltry 20.06%.

In the 2019 elections, ND ended on 39.85% and Syriza came in second with 31.53%.

Results released by the Interior Ministry showed the social democratic PASOK-KINAL on 11.65%, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) with 7.16%, and the far-right Greek Solution party on 4.47%.

With 2.56%, former Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis’ MeRA25 party was unable to cross the 3% threshold to re-enter parliament.

The ultra-conservative Victory party, which is reportedly backed by the Church of Greece, had 2.93% of the vote in what was its first election.

Similarly, the leftist Sailing for Freedom party of former parliamentary speaker Zoe Constantopoulou, who broke away from Syriza in 2015, performed better than expected to get 2.85% of the vote.

The voter turnout was slightly over 60%, according to official figures.

The results marked a major failure for opinion polls in Greece. For instance, the most recent survey showed ND would get around 36%, Syriza was on course for 30%, while MeRA25 was projected to secure 4% of the vote.

- What next for Greece?

Despite its big win, Mitsotakis’ party will not be able to form a government on its own because of recent changes to the Greek electoral system.

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will give the leader of the biggest party three days to form a coalition.

If that fails, the exploratory mandate will go to the second-largest party, and then to the third.

If the parties are unable to strike a deal, the president will hold a final meeting with leaders to try and form a government or finalize an interim administration to oversee another round of elections.

In case there is still no agreement, she will appoint a caretaker government to run Greece until the new elections, which would be held on June 25.

A senior judicial official, who must be the head of one of Greece’s top three courts, will be appointed as caretaker prime minister.

In the second round, the system will revert to semi-proportional representation, with a sliding scale seat bonus, making it more likely for a party to secure an outright majority.

Under this system, the winning party gets a bonus of 20 seats if it has at least 25% of the vote, going up to 50 seats if it has about 40%. ​​​​​​​

- ‘Greeks want a strong government’

In his first statement after the results, Mitsotakis said the results of the ballot box are “pivotal.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said, addressing supporters at the party headquarters.

He said the results show that Greek people want a strong government, asserting that his party stands ready for the second round next month.

Syriza leader Tsipras acknowledged that the results were “extremely negative” for his party.

The former prime minister said he had called Mitsotakis to congratulate him on his victory.

“Syriza’s internal bodies will convene immediately to assess the results,” he added.

KKE leader Dimitris Koutsoubas hailed the results as a victory for his party and the Greek working class, while PASOK-KINAL head Nikos Androulakis also expressed satisfaction over the gains made by his party in Sunday’s vote.

#New Democracy
#Kyriakos Mitsotakis
10 days ago