On Wednesday, the second anniversary of the last general election, the ruling conservative New Democracy party will reach the midpoint of its term. But for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the anniversary is a reminder of things still to be done.
“I want to maintain for the next two years this sense of emergency, which was imposed on us because of the pandemic. In a sense, the challenges are more exciting. We have [the money from the EU’s] recovery fund to manage. We have an economy that is very clearly recovering. We have very creative [policy proposals] which we can implement to the benefit of the citizens,” Mitsotakis said in an interview with Kathimerini published in its latest Sunday edition.
To the prime minister, July is anything but a time for holidays. After passing a labor reform bill in June, two major pieces of legislation will follow, on pensions and education.
Privately, Mitsotakis and his aides point out two major achievements over the past two years: political stability and stability in the government’s favorable image. For the first time since the end of 2011, there is no coalition government. And, uniquely, this single-party government remains as popular, if not more so, two years into its mandate: In September 2019, the first major opinion polls following the July election showed New Democracy 13.5 percentage points ahead of leftist SYRIZA, its predecessor in government, in voting intentions. The last major polls show the difference at 13 percent.
The two crises are far from over, even though they are not as acute as they once were. On the pandemic, Mitsotakis insists the country will not be shut down for a third time because of a minority of unvaccinated people. The latter he divides into three types: the deniers on principle, who are very difficult to convince, the hesitant, who can be persuaded to get vaccinated and what he calls “free riders,” who prefer to have others get the shots so they can enjoy the benefits of the end of the lockdown. Asked if the unvaccinated should be allowed to take part in social events on an equal footing with the others, Mitsotakis said that exclusion would be constitutionally doubtful.
On relations with Turkey, Mitsotakis says he’s certain that this summer will be quieter than the last, adding that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have an open line of communication.
The full interview will be published in Tuesday’s Kathimerini English Edition.