A day after national elections failed to produce a single-party government, Greece yesterday was bracing for a new ballot which vote-winning Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ party was poised to seek in order to govern alone.
Mitsotakis’ conservative New Democracy party scored a thumping win in Sunday’s vote, with a clear 20-point lead over its nearest rival, Syriza led by leftist Alexis Tsipras.
Voters handed the conservatives their best result since 2007, crediting the party with bringing economic stability back to a nation once known as an EU laggard, but the win fell short of an outright majority, leaving Mitsotakis with the option of either seeking a coalition or calling a new vote.
Left-wing daily Efsyn yesterday was headlined “Shock and awe,” a feeling shared by both New Democracy and Syriza voters, while pro-government Proto Thema said that the double-digit divide was the widest seen in the nation since 1974.
Mitsotakis himself said the “great victory surpassed our own expectations.”
With the count almost complete, New Democracy won 146 seats in the 300-deputy parliament — five short of a majority.
The 55-year-old Harvard graduate on Sunday made it clear his preferred option was for a new ballot.
“Together we will fight as of tomorrow, so that in the next elections, what citizens have already decided — a self-reliant New Democracy — will be mathematically confirmed at the ballot,” Mitsotakis said.
“We will move forward, boldly and steadily, to complete today’s important first step, and be the final winners,” he said.
Tsipras also set the stage for a new vote, now expected as early as June 25, saying “the electoral cycle is not over yet.”
The next battle would be “critical and final,” he said.
Greek Minister of the Interior Calliope Spanou was expected to formally announce the results at midday yesterday. Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou would then summon Mitsotakis and formally hand him a mandate to seek alliances in forming a coalition government — which the conservative leader has already indicated he would decline.
Similar mandates to Syriza and third-placed socialist party Pasok-Kinal are also doomed to failure, given Sunday’s result.
Under the constitution, Sakellaropoulou is then obliged to ask the five parties who made it to parliament to cooperate in forming a government.
Failing that, a senior judge would be named interim prime minister and call for new elections.
In the past four years, former McKinsey consultant Mitsotakis, 55, had steered the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic, which devastated Greece’s vital tourism industry.
On his watch, the erstwhile EU economic headache has enjoyed a post-pandemic revival, booking growth of 5.9 percent last year.
With unemployment and inflation falling, and growth this year projected at twice that of the EU average, Greece’s outlook was a far cry from the throes of a crippling debt crisis a decade ago.
Mitsotakis’ term had been blighted by a wiretapping scandal, as well as a train crash in February that claimed 57 lives.
The government initially blamed the accident — Greece’s worst-ever rail disaster — on human error, even though the nation’s notoriously poor rail network has suffered from years of underinvestment.
Nevertheless, neither the accident nor the wiretapping scandal appeared to have dented support for New Democracy — which scored a far bigger win than that predicted by opinion polls ahead of the vote.
Under a new electoral law that comes into play in the next election, the winner can obtain a bonus of up to 50 seats. Based on Sunday’s showing and that calculation, New Democracy is virtually assured of a victory, but the left will likely seek to turn the tide by campaigning on cost-of-living problems.
LOST BATTLE: The Varroa mite, which Canberra has called the ‘most serious pest’ to face bees, would cause serious economic damage, an ecologist said Australia yesterday abandoned its fight to eradicate the destructive Varroa mite, an invasive parasite responsible for the collapse of honeybee populations across the planet. Desperate to keep Varroa out of the country, authorities have destroyed more than 14,000 infected beehives since the tiny red-brown pest was first detected north of Sydney in June last year. The government said its US$64 million eradication plan could not stop the mite from spreading, and the country’s beekeepers should now prepare to live with the incursion. “The recent spike in new detections have made it clear that the Varroa mite infestation is more widespread and has
COP28 AGENDA: Beijing’s climate envoy said that China was open to negotiating a global renewable energy target as long as it took economic conditions into account The complete phasing-out of fossil fuels is not realistic, China’s top climate official said on Thursday, adding that such fuels must continue to play a vital role in maintaining global energy security. Chinese Special Envoy on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua (解振華) was responding to comments by ambassadors at a forum in Beijing ahead of the UN’s COP28 climate meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in November. Reporters obtained a copy of text of Xie’s speech and a video recording of the meeting. Countries are under pressure to make more ambitious climate pledges after a UN-led global “stocktake” said that 20 gigatonnes of additional
SCIENTIFIC TREASURE: Preserved building blocks from the dawn of our solar system, the samples would help scientists better understand how the Earth and life formed NASA’s first asteroid samples fetched from deep space on Sunday parachuted into the Utah desert to cap a seven-year journey. In a flyby of Earth, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft released the sample capsule from 100,000km out. The small capsule landed four hours later on a remote expanse of military land, as the ship set off after another asteroid. “We have touchdown,” mission recovery operations announced, immediately repeating the news since the landing occurred three minutes early. Officials later said the orange striped parachute opened four times higher than anticipated — at about 6,100m — basing it on the deceleration rate. To everyone’s relief, the
The son of jailed Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai (黎智英) on Wednesday said that he did not want to see his father die in detention, as his lawyers raised the prospect that his long-delayed trial might be pushed back indefinitely. Sebastien Lai (黎崇恩) also said that the British government was “shameful” for its lack of action in helping his father, who is a British national. Jimmy Lai, the 75-year-old founder of Hong Kong’s now-defunct Apple Daily, has been in detention since he was arrested in 2020 under a National Security Law imposed by Beijing. The Hong Kong businessman faces up to life