PM seeks fresh start at Thessaloniki

Mitsotakis speech to target young, the middle class, business owners

PM seeks fresh start at Thessaloniki

As the new political season kicks in on Saturday with the customary keynote speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis aims to turn the page after more than a year and a half of a state of emergency brought on by the pandemic.

The prime minister will also try to mitigate the negative impressions from his government’s handling of the wildfires that broke out in the first half of August. He is expected to aim his address at two large groups crucial to the government’s image and his own quest for a second term, whether elections take place at the end of this one, in July 2023 or whether he decides to call them earlier. The groups in question are the middle class, including small business owners, and the young.

The former constitute the ruling conservative party’s bedrock support and it was they who gave New Democracy its decisive majority over leftist SYRIZA in July 2019. Also, it was the small and medium-sized businesses that were mostly hurt by the pandemic and the successive lockdowns. Government sources say that Mitsotakis wants to renew the bonds with this particular group.

Sources close to the prime minister say that the largest part of Mitsotakis’ address will target the young, specifically the 18-29 age group, without neglecting the even younger. It is among the youngest voters that Mitsotakis’ support is the weakest.

A major choice made by the government has been to postpone mandatory vaccination, at least for the next two months, unless the pandemic forces its hand. The choice is not only medical, but political, as the government would like to keep tensions as low as possible and is wary of creating a political movement from the vaccine deniers or a backlash against any further restrictions.

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