Center-right New Democracy surged to a decisive victory in general elections on Sunday, paving the way for leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to form a comfortable majority government this week.
With 86.4 percent of votes counted late last night, ND had secured 39.77 percent, over SYRIZA’s 31.55 – a more resilient performance than had been expected. This translates to 158 seats for ND and 86 for SYRIZA.
Center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) came in third with 7.94 percent (22 seats) and the Greek Communist Party (KKE) with 5.35 percent (15 seats).
In one of the most significant developments of the evening, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn was out of Greece’s Parliament after failing to reach the 3 percent threshold with 2.96 percent.
However, the nationalist, pro-Russian Greek Solution, which drew a significant proportion of GD’s voters, made it into the House with 3.74 percent (10 seats) and MeRA25, the party of former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, secured 3.48 percent (9 seats).
In his victory speech, Mitsotakis said he was undertaking his new role in government “with full awareness of the responsibility to the nation.” “I stand with humility and respect before the popular mandate,” he said and pledged not to let down his supporters. “I asked for a strong mandate to change Greece.
You gave it to me generously,” he said, adding that it was his administration’s duty to “unite all Greeks.” “Society delivered a clear message in favor of growth, job-creation and security,” Mitsotakis declared. “I will work hard to represent all Greeks; we are too few to stay divided,” he said, adding that “transparency and meritocracy will return to Greece, and our country’s voice in Europe will be strengthened.”
He said Parliament will work during the summer and that his party does not require a grace period.
Mitsotakis will be sworn in on Monday while his cabinet will also be announced. The members of the cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday while its first meeting will take place on Wednesday. It was also announced that Parliament will open on July 17.
Conceding defeat, outgoing prime minister Alexis Tsipras said that he “absolutely” accepted the verdict of the people. “To bring Greece to where it is today we had to take difficult decisions with a heavy political cost,” he said, insisting, however, that the defeat was not a “strategic” one and defending his legacy.
“We hold our heads up high as the Greece we are handing over in no way resembles the Greece we took over four years ago,” Tsipras said. Tsipras also vowed to fight so that SYRIZA and the Progressive Alliance will be transformed into a large progressive democratic party and pledged to strive to “protect the interests of the working people.”
News of Mitsotakis’ victory triggered a series of congratulatory messages and calls from abroad. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first foreign leader to telephone. Mitsotakis reportedly told Erdogan that he anticipates that Greek-Turkish relations can be reset on the premise of international law and a candid dialogue for the mutual benefits of both countries.
In a congratulatory letter, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Mitsotakis that Greece has achieved a lot but must do more. He also expressed his complete confidence in Mitsotakis’ ability to write a new chapter for Greece and said that he can count on the EC’s support to do so.
As the elections got under way earlier in the day, Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain’s leftist Podemos party, expressed support for Tsipras saying he had “the courage to govern with all Greek and European powers against [him].” “Politics is the art of dealing with contradictions.
Tsipras had the courage to govern with all the Greek and European powers against [him]. Those who never try will never take the risk of being wrong. We did not take Manhattan, but you were worthy and brave,” he said in a tweet. Podemos was a close ally to SYRIZA in its anti-bailout struggle.
Abstention was at around 44 percent, close to a record for general elections in Greece. Voters flocked to hundreds of polling centers around the country.
In remote parts, the state pitched in to help residents cast their ballots. Residents of the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese who vote on Kastellorizo were transferred to the remote island aboard a navy vessel. A warship conducted two trips – one in the morning and one in the early afternoon – from Rhodes to Kastellorizo to transfer some 80 voters to the remote island.