While the June 14th boat wreck still haunts the minds of many within Greece. Hundreds of refugees are either dead or missing, and since then, it’s had the Greek people calling into question the actions of authorities within Greece and its strict and rigid migrant policy. This was a critical talking point, for soon everyone’s attention would be turned towards the elections, which came right off the heels of the incident.
In a duel largely centering around the conservative New Democracy party and the left-wing Syriza party, the former came out on top as the incumbent candidate, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, won a second four-year term in office.
The win was an absolute landslide, with 90% of the voting centers nationwide showing that Mitsotakis now keeps the title with over 40% of the vote. The Syriza party, in turn, was crushed, when their votes came out to just under 18%. This is even worse than their last election, in which they’d scored 20% of the vote. This is despite the scandals that had rocked his campaign, such as revelations of wiretapping politicians and journalists. The people of Greece wanted the return of someone who would reform Greece as a prosperous and fiscally responsible country once again.
In his televised address, Mitsotakis hailed a “strong mandate”. “The people have given us a safe majority. Major reforms will proceed rapidly.”
Out of 300 seats within the Greek parliament, the New Democracy party was projected to win 157 or 158 of them. This is a result of a relatively recent change to election laws, in which the victor party gets bonus seats. In May’s election, when conducted under the proportional representation system, the New Democracy party was left 5 seats short of the majority despite having won 41% of the vote.
As it turns out, the boat wreck on June 14th had not been able to heavily influence the election on either side. This is likely due to another problem plaguing the minds of the country’s citizens: the economy. At least, that was the report coming from John Psaropoulos, a reporter for Al Jazeera.
“That is something that New Democracy appears to be trusted on much more than Syriza. Because the economy has been growing again since 2019, and in the last year has marked higher growth than any other European Union member,” Psaropoulos had said. “New Democracy has convinced people that Greece under its watch is close to getting investment grade status back for its sovereign bonds and that will greatly lower the cost of borrowing – now close to five percent, which is high for Greece.”
Getting back to the election, Psaropoulos said. “So it appears that the message is ‘Stick with us. We are going to provide confidence, trust in the international markets and growth and jobs that will keep your children at home’. That message appears to be getting through to voters.”
There’s another reason why the win was such a landslide. Mitsotakis’ main opponent was Alexis Tsipras, who served as prime minister back in 2015-2019, also known as some of the most troubled years of Greece’s decade-long financial crisis. After this election, it’s a wonder if his political career will ever have a chance at revival. Even during the May elections, Tsipras had a difficult time rallying support from his original supporters. This was made even harder by the fact that some of his former associates made splinter parties, taking away much of Tripras’ voter base. He himself knows that his party will be in opposition for until the next election cycle, even while the votes had yet to be cast for the current one.
“This crucial election is not only determining who will govern the country, it is determining our lives for the next four years, it is determining the quality of our democracy,” Tsipras had said. “It is determining whether we will have an unchecked government or a strong opposition. This role can only be played by Syriza.”
Although Mitsotakis won by a huge margin, there weren’t enough parliamentary seats won in his party’s favor to form a new government. Even still, the amount of seats they’ve won should form a strong majority.
Mitsotakis has been taking an economically focused path forward, promising to rebrand Greece as both pro-business and fiscally responsible.
“We are voting so people can have a stable government for the next four years,” Mitsotakis had said after he himself voted. “I am sure that Greeks will vote with maturity for their personal prosperity and the country’s stability.”