Kyriakos Mitsotakis was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Greece on Monday, following Sunday’s election. Mitsotakis’ party, New Democracy, received 39.8% of the nationwide vote and will hold 158 seats in the country’s parliament. The runner-up party, Syriza, received 31% of the vote and is led by previous Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. New Democracy supporters expect Mitsotakis to lead the country out of a decade-long financial crisis that resulted in several bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
In response to Syriza’s defeat, Tsipras reminded supporters of his party’s continued presence in parliament: “I can assure the Greek people that from the benches of the opposition we will be present to protect the interests of people of toil and creativity.” Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, thanked former Prime Minister Tsipras for all he has accomplished during his four years as Prime Minister, adding that he “has done a lot for his country and for Europe.” Moscovici also congratulated Mitsotakis on his victory and wished him success in “pursuing the job of getting the Greek economy back on its feet.” Mitsotakis, celebrating the victory, stated that “society wants us to go forward united, together. It wants above all growth, jobs and security for Greece to become strong again, as it deserves.” According to political advisor Wolfango Piccoli, “the solid majority gained in Parliament will provide Mr. Mitsotakis with the needed political capital to push ahead with his agenda without having to tread too carefully to keep the delicate intraparty balancing…the results mark the first time in 10 years that a political party has won enough support to govern alone.”
New Democracy’s success in Sunday’s election leaves them with a lot of power in the new parliament, controlling over half the seats. This majority essentially allows the party to enact any legislation that they wish, so this new administration will have a direct effect on the lives of the residents of Greece. While left-wing Syriza remains a vocal opposition to New Democracy’s conservative policies, they are unlikely to affect any of Mitsotakis’ legislation. In absence of such political gridlock, Mitsotakis and the New Democracy will be expected to uphold the promises they made during the campaign; partisan politics will not be an effective excuse for unmet expectations. Another important outcome of Sunday’s election is the removal of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn from parliament. While they held few seats in the previous parliament and did not have a prominent effect on the Greek government, their presence served as a symbolic message that fascist and racist rhetoric is tolerated as a part of a nation’s governing body. Golden Dawn’s failure to secure seats in parliament shows that the views of the nation are changing in a positive direction, and Sunday’s election should be taken as a sign that neo-Nazi groups have no place in government organizations.
A major component of the New Democracy party platform has been economic reform, as Greece has been in a period of financial crisis for almost a decade. The nation’s GDP has fallen by as much as a quarter in recent years, and Greece currently suffers from an unemployment rate of 18%. Despite exiting its most recent bailout in 2018, economic growth has been slow, according to Al Jazeera, but Mitsotakis promises to double the current growth rate to reach 4%. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mitsotakis also plans on cutting taxes strengthening the authority of the Prime Minister’s Office. Sunday’s election results hold lots of promise for Mitsotakis and the New Democracy, as they control 158 of the 300 seats in Parliament. 50 of these 300 seats are automatically awarded to the party receiving the highest percentage of the nation’s vote, and the rest are distributed proportionally; a political party must receive at least three percent of the vote in order to hold seats in parliament. Six parties have done so after Sunday’s vote: New Democracy, Syriza, Movement for Change, the Greek Communist Party, Greek Solution, and MeRa 25. Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, who won 7% of the vote and held 18 seats after the 2015 election, did not reach the three percent threshold and will no longer hold any power in Greece’s parliament.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ inauguration marks the beginning of a new direction for Greece, and there is a lot of pressure on his political party to get the nation’s economy back on track. In the absence of any current political competition, the New Democracy must use their power wisely to benefit the people of Greece. While the liberal Syriza party does not currently hold enough seats in parliament to affect the legislative process, a future election could easily shift power back into their hands if the New Democracy does not fulfil the promises that they made while campaigning. Regardless of which party holds the current majority, it is essential to ensure that another neo-Nazi party does not come back into power, as that sort of political influence is extremely dangerous and threatens democracies around the world.
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