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ATHENS — Greece’s conservatives won big in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, securing an outright majority. Far-right parties also gained, while the left struggled, giving the Greek parliament its most right-wing lean since the restoration of democracy in 1974.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party managed to extend its double-digit lead over its main rival, the left-wing Syriza party, and secured 158 seats in the country’s 300-seat parliament, thanks to the new electoral system that allocates 50 seats to the winning party. bonus seats.
« Our goals are high and must be high in a second term that can transform Greece with dynamic growth rates that will raise wages and reduce inequality, » Mitsotakis said in his first message from his party headquarters.
“The people have given us a secure majority. The great reforms will therefore proceed rapidly as this is the choice of the Greek people and I will honor it in full ».
Sunday’s election was the second held in the country in five weeks, after New Democracy finished first on May 21 but fell short of an outright majority.
New Democracy won 40.5% of the vote on Sunday, while Syriza fell behind with just 17.8% and 47 seats, according to official results. The socialist party PASOK had 11.9% and 32 seats, while the communist KKE had 7.6% and 20 seats. The participation rate was 52.7%, the interior ministry said.
Four fringe parties, mainly far-right, also managed to pass the 3% threshold to enter parliament.
The last-minute contender, the Spartans party, which recently added a jailed MP from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, to its list of supporters, saw his support rise to 4.7 percent within days and secure 13 seats in parliament. The Conservative government had passed an amendment aimed at banning him from parliament.
The dominance of New Democracy is another sign of how southern European countries are shifting to the right, after a decade-long financial crisis in the Eurozone that led to the rise of left-wing parties.
The ultra-nationalist and pro-Russian Greek solution obtained 4.5% and 12 seats, while the anti-abortion religious party Niki obtained 3.7% and 10 deputies. On the left, Course of Freedom, led by former Syriza member Zoi Konstantopoulou, won 3.1% and 8 seats.
The far right has performed well in recent elections in Finland and Spain, and is performing particularly well in Germany. Its shrewdest elements — such as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni — are beginning to assert themselves at the European level.
But the main story of Sunday’s election was the dominance of New Democracy, which is another sign of how southern European countries are moving to the right, after a decade-long financial crisis in the eurozone that led to the rise of left-wing parties.
« This is a clear victory for Kyriakos Mitsotakis, for [New Democracy] and for the EPP,” said Thanasis Bakolas, secretary general of the centre-right European People’s Party.
“In politics, what you represent matters. This is what we see in Greece, also what we saw earlier this year in the national elections in Finland and the regional elections in Spain. And that is exactly what we will see again in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Spain in July and in Poland in October. The EPP parties are dominating the centre, while the centre-left is barricaded on its margins”.
The election outcome is seen as market-friendly and puts Greece firmly on track to regain an investment grade rating towards the end of the year, analysts said.
Mitsotakis has promised that his first two bills will include further reform of public administration and the economy. He also promised overhauls in the judiciary, health and education sectors and expressed his intention to create a family ministry to help deal with Greece’s shrinking and aging population.
« The resounding victory will provide ND with a healthy majority, putting Mitsotakis in a good position to push forward investor-friendly reforms, » said Wolfango Piccoli, co-founder of risk analyst firm Teneo.
But fringe parties will have a platform to deliver their populist message and try to disrupt the government agenda by exploiting politically toxic issues such as migration, the relationship with Turkey, abortion, the role of religion in education, sanctions on Russia, he added.
« It remains to be seen how Mitsotakis – often perceived as more vulnerable to attacks from the far right given his distinctly liberal and centre-right orientation – will deal with the possible challenge posed by far-right opposition lawmakers. »
Main opposition Syriza has performed very badly, raising questions as to whether its status as main opposition can now be challenged by the Pasok party. It also means that conservatives could govern without particular scrutiny.
« Although the danger of collapse has been averted and Syriza remains the official opposition, we have suffered a serious electoral defeat, » said party leader Alexis Tsipras, setting next year’s European elections as a target for the re-imposition of the party and adding that he will put his leadership to the judgment of party members.