A wise verdict
The Greek people voted wisely, as they have done in the past. They have given Kyriakos Mitsotakis a comfortable majority and a strong mandate. A percentage so close to 40 percent is unprecedented in the years of the crisis, as is a government with an outright majority.
There are those, of course, who think that the parliamentary majority and the margin of 8 percent that New Democracy secured over SYRIZA are still too small. These are probably the same people who tried to convince us two or three months ago that the incumbent leftists were here to stay and foresaw a win for the center-right opposition in the European elections of just a couple of points and were eyeing up to 15 percentage points in Sunday’s snap polls.
As the late New Democracy leader Constantinos Mitsotakis liked to say, the party has the “soul of a songbird,” in that it is easily frightened.
Voters may indeed have been frightened by expectations for a massive win for New Democracy. As a body, though, they decided to give the party a victory but without a margin that could have generated arrogance among its ranks. They gave the party a clear and strong, yet reasonable, popular mandate that is a success which can be attributed to Mr Mitsotakis.
The electoral outcome also showed that New Democracy now has two battles on its hands. The first is the battle of the center, winning over more of the middle ground instead of the area further to the party’s right. That is where the game will be played with SYRIZA in four years’ time, as the outgoing prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, rightly pointed out. ND will also have to find a way to reach out to a large part of society that still feels very vulnerable and crushed by the crisis.
Mr Mitsotakis has decided to move ahead rapidly with significant reforms. The faster he moves, the better. And without thinking what majority he has.
Meanwhile the result of Sunday’s election has given Mr Tsipras the chance to decide what type of party he wants to lead. To decide if he is to leave behind, for good, the 3 percent weighing him down in favor of a center-left party with real power. No one can dispute him; it’s up to him from now on.
We have four years in front of us. We will do well if the new government is decisive and courageous and the new opposition behaves more maturely than it has done in the past. The people have turned a page and are now waiting.