Former administrative reform minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has caused an upset by winning the New Democracy leadership in a fairly tight vote on Sunday.
With 70 percent of the votes counted, Mitsotakis was on around 51 percent, against 49 percent for former interim leader Evangelos Meimarakis. However, the final outcome, which is not due until Monday, is expected to show a wider margin of victory for Mitsotakis, who was expected to dominate in the greater Athens region.
Central Macedonia Governor Apostolos Tzitzicostas, one of four candidates in the first round of voting in December, tweeted congratulations to Mitsotakis at around 9 p.m., with only around 50 percent of the votes counted. Meimarakis called Mitsotakis at around 10 p.m. to congratulate him on his victory.
“The mandate is clear: Creative renewal and expansion so we can provide an alternative governing solution for the country,” said Mitsotakis in a brief statement shortly before midnight.
"We have a common purpose: To express all those forces that are opposed to the populism of an incompetent government,” added the 47-year-old.
Mitsotakis is due to take over officially as New Democracy president from caretaker leader Yiannis Plakiotakis at noon on Monday.
It was estimated that around 320,000 people, or around 80 percent of those who voted in the first round last month, devoted part of their Sunday to have a say in who will lead the main opposition party.