NEWS

Mitsotakis hails defeat of populism, vows economic reform

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Greece’s main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has hailed New Democracy’s victory in European and local elections Sunday as a defeat of populism, while voicing his confidence that his conservative party can spur economic growth by creating an investment-friendly environment.

“On Sunday Greece took a first important step towards a big political change, and we proved that we can defeat the forces of extremism, the forces of populism by focusing on the issues Greeks care about the most: How to attract investment, how to create new jobs, how to reduce taxes, how to make Greeks feel safe again in their neighborhood,” Mitsotakis said ahead of a meeting of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) in Brussels on Tuesday.

After suffering an unexpectedly severe pounding at the ballot box for his leftist SYRIZA party on Sunday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras decided not to push through to a full term – which expires in October – but call early elections. Likely dates for the ballot are June 30 or July 7.

“As we move towards national elections we will work very hard to convince the Greek people that we deserve their trust. There is no reason whatsoever to change our strategy after four very difficult years they deserve realistic solutions to improve their lives and I am sure that we [New Democracy] can deliver,” Mitsotakis said.

Asked whether elections could fuel market volatility, Mitsotakis said, “I think the markets are craving for political stability and people both within but also outside Greece know that our no.1 priority is to grow the economy. We have a very clear plan of how to attract investment, how to make Greece an investment-friendly country, we have set a very clear target towards achieving growth of 4 percent, we know how to deliver it,” he said.

“We are entering this campaign feeling very confident but also very humble, also respecting the people who did not vote for us and we will work very hard to convince as many Greeks as possible that they deserve our support.”

European Union leaders meet on Tuesday to begin bargaining over who will take the bloc's top jobs for the next five years.