ATHENS — Greece’s ruling Conservative Party won a landslide victory in Sunday’s elections but will have to await a second vote later this summer in a bid to secure an outright majority.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party has managed to gain a double-digit lead over its main rival, the left-wing Syriza party, according to early results.
« The political earthquake that occurred today invites all of us to accelerate the process for a final government solution, » Mitsotakis said from his party headquarters on Sunday evening.
“The ballot box data is catalytic: It shows New Democracy has the endorsement to govern independently and strongly, and they demanded it emphatically, absolutely,” he said.
With 75% of the vote counted, New Democracy was poised to win 40.8% of the vote and 145 seats in 300 parliaments. Syriza lagged behind with only 20.1% and 72 seats, while the socialist Pasok party had 11.7% and 42 seats. The KKE communists had 7.1% and 25 seats and the Greek nationalist solution 4.5% and 16 seats.
Three smaller parties that initially seemed poised to score 3% and reach the threshold to enter parliament eventually scored lower. The participation rate was 59.2%, the interior ministry said.
However, New Democracy did not collect the percentage of votes – 45% – needed to obtain an absolute majority.
Mitsotakis managed to gain voters despite his premiership being weighed down by a spy scandal, spiraling inflation and growing concerns about the rule of law.
« Our collective bodies will be convened immediately to evaluate the election results, » Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said, calling the results extremely negative for his party.
However, he said, “the election cycle is not over yet, as there will probably be a second election and therefore we don’t have time to wait. We must immediately make all the necessary changes, in order to give the best possible conditions to the next crucial and final electoral battle”.
« It is a devastating result for the opposition, especially for Syriza, » said Wolfango Piccoli, co-founder of the risk analysis firm Teneo.
« It will take a long time for the main opposition party to recover, leaving New Democracy in a position to dominate Greek politics and run the government without any meaningful oversight, » he said.
“The outcome of today’s vote will be welcomed by investors, but ND’s dominance of the political system coupled with weak opposition may raise concerns about clientelism and the quality of decision-making,” Piccoli added.
« New Democracy’s resounding victory sends a clear and unquestioned message across Europe, » said Thanasis Bakolas, general secretary of the centre-right European People’s Party, adding that this is the first time since 2000 in Greece that the incumbent government has emerged more strong after its term.
“A message to Brussels? — Today’s election result is a clear message against all those outside Greece who have consistently questioned the quality of Greek democracy and the will of the Greek people,” added Bakolas.
Starting Monday, each of the three major parties will have a mandate to form a government, starting with the winner, then moving on to the second and then the third. Each will have up to three days to try to form a government.
If there is no agreement on a coalition, the parliament elected on Sunday will be sworn in and then dissolved, paving the way for a second round of elections to be held and an interim government to be sworn in.
Buoyed by his triumph, Mitsotakis should immediately seek a second vote, rejecting the option of a coalition after this first round of voting.
That means Greeks will likely go to the polls again on June 25 or July 2, with New Democracy poised to win an outright majority, thanks to a system that grants the winning party in the second round up to 50 bonus seats.