Society is changing

Society is changing

Greece turned a page yesterday. Beyond New Democracy’s resounding victory, which is due mainly to Kyriakos Mitsotakis, two big circles came to a close with Sunday’s election: the Metapolitefsi and Greece’s bankruptcy. The political process that began with the restoration of democracy after the 1967-74 junta can be regarded as having come to a close with the sound rejection of the narrative that has dominated, with few exceptions, for decades. SYRIZA’s strategic defeat points to the end of specific ideological taboos. Citizens voted for the person who can get the job done, beyond political ideologies and theories. They are not interested in charisma or the reincarnation of Andreas Papandreou.

At the same time, we saw traditional party lines being snuffed out. What represents the “real ND” is a question that only concerns a tiny majority. The doomsayers who saw center-right voters staying at home or casting their ballots for far-right parties were disproved. It was also the first time that we saw so many center-leftists, leftists, ex-PASOK supporters and members of all sorts of political tribes voting ND. Some did so half-heartedly, but they did so.

Many also expected young voters to disprove the public opinion polls and increase SYRIZA’s share. This didn’t happen either. The “Tik-Tok generation” voted in much the same way as everyone else.

Yesterday’s result also shows that the left’s ascent to power and SYRIZA’s boost may just have been a parenthesis. The leftist opposition party was basically the product of anger. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, responded to a historic imperative and rode the wave of public frustration, bolstering his party along the way. The climate today is completely different, however. Nature despises a vacuum and the race for who will dominate the opposition, and possibly ascend to power, is now really on.

History has handed Mitsotakis an unprecedented opportunity. What he has accomplished is, indeed, impressive. He was underestimated, won the leadership as an outsider, beat Tsipras in an atmosphere of widespread fear that this was impossible, made some fatal mistakes, came back from them, was underestimated again and then managed to win again, with an incredible margin.

Now he will be called up to challenge another prevalent axiom: that the second term of every prime minister is worse than the first. He has no rivals, not inside or outside his party. He’s looking at a solid two years of growth ahead. He knows exactly what is needed to change in this country. It is a historic and unprecedented opportunity. His biggest enemy could well be the lack of humility that often comes after a triumph, especially when there’s no one on the other side of the court.

Nevertheless, what happened yesterday was much greater than the personalities involved. It signaled the defeat of the miserably naysayers who despise change and progress. A critical mass of voters declared that it is ready for great change and turned its back on the mentality of opposing anything that upsets the status quo. Society is changing – and anyone who doesn’t understand that will be left behind. 

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