Mitsotakis wins Greek elections despite scandals

New Democracy, the conservative bloc around current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, wins the elections in Greece. With more than 40 percent, the party does not achieve an absolute majority. The gain is striking, given that the Mitsotakis government had a particularly bumpy course.

In the news: A clear victory for the Conservatives.

  • Anyone who thought in advance that the elections would be exciting, was soon in for the trouble. The first exit polls already showed clear gains for New Democracy. As more voices became known, this did not change; only in one region, Rodopi, did the party fail to become the largest.
  • In the end, the party of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis fell short of an absolute majority with more than 40 percent. At the same time, it left the opponents in the sand:
    • Syriza, the bloc around the main challenger and former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, received just over 20 percent of the vote.
    • PASOK, the socialist party of Nikos Androulakis, landed in third place with more than eleven percent.
    • The other parties each achieved less than ten percent. It is striking that MeRa25, the party of Yanis Varoufakis, also lost with only 2.5 percent of the vote. Varoufakis was finance minister in the Tsipras government and led negotiations with creditors during the sovereign debt crisis.

Espionage

Underlying: That Mitsotakis wins the elections can be called a small miracle. His reign has been overshadowed by scandals.

  • For example, there is Predator Gate. Predator is spy software that can be installed on mobile phones to tap people. For example, people listen in on conversations and they can view and copy messages or data. Last year, CNN journalist Thanasis Koukakis confirmed that Predator software had been found on his cell phone. Not much later, the software was also discovered at Nikos Androulakis, PASOK’s party chairman. In total, it concerns 33 politicians, businessmen and journalists.
    • The investigation led to the EYP, the Greek intelligence agency. He was placed under his personal command by Mitsotakis immediately after taking office. The head of the service resigned after a parliamentary committee of inquiry. Grigoris Dimitriadis, Mitsotakis’s cousin and chief of staff, also resigned. However, he himself claimed not to have been aware of the espionage scandal.

Shopping basket

  • In addition, a serious train disaster occurred near the city of Larissa at the end of February. A passenger train collided with a freight train. 57 occupants were killed. The station master was arrested, but the Greek government is also on the fence. For example, the state of the railways has been substandard for some time, and the railway companies are struggling with serious staff shortages.
  • Greece has also experienced very high inflation in recent years. However, it remained somewhat lower than that in Belgium: in 2021 it was an annual inflation of 5.11 percent (5.71 in Belgium). In 2022 it was 7.22 percent, in Belgium 10.35. But still: the shopping basket of the Greek became a lot more expensive.
    • The Greek government decided in February to accommodate. From now on, 10 percent of monthly purchases would be reimbursed by the government. Nevertheless, Greek purchasing power is still low. Purchasing power is the lowest in Europe after Albania. The average wage is 750 euros per month; the cause lies in the austerity and reforms that the country has implemented over the past ten years.

Second round?

And now? Mitsotakis would prefer to govern alone, without coalition partners.

  • According to the Greek system, a party must receive 45 percent of the vote for an absolute majority. This is due to proportional representation. No party has reached that absolute majority now.
  • A coalition, in which New Democracy finds one or more partners to enter the government, is possible. Mitsotakis himself has said several times that he is not in favor of coalitions. He would rather see a second round of elections. Thanks to the voting system, the winner can immediately conquer 50 extra seats in parliament, out of a total of 300 seats.
  • There is therefore a good chance that the Greeks will go to the polls again at the beginning of July.

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