Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis used his speech at a meeting of the European People’s Party leaders in Brussels on Wednesday to castigate the rise of populism in Europe as exemplified by Greece’s ruling coalition.
The forces of populism, he said, do not resolve problems but augment them. His comments came as the government prepares to present its proposal for electoral reform, which seeks to change the enhanced proportional representation system – which gives the winning party an added bonus of 50 seats – with simple proportional representation. ND has said it will not back the change, saying it is a populist ploy by the government to divert attention from the country’s economic woes and because it is lagging behind the conservatives in the polls.
The conservative party believes the government will not able to muster the required 200 votes to pass the electoral reform into law, but is nonetheless determined to expose the “populism” of the leftist-led government which, it says, is cherrypicking and tampering with the electoral law to prevent the formation of a future conservative government given the lead New Democracy has in the polls. Rather than allow this, conservatives say, Tsipras wants to vote through changes that will lead the country down the path of coalition governments.
Mitsotakis’s aides say that simple proportional representation can only lead to a coalition government between New Democracy and SYRIZA. Since Tsipras has ruled out forming such a coalition, conservative officials say the only reason he is pushing for reform is to stop New Democracy from forming a government.