Greece: clear winner - but new elections looming?

Incumbent Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his liberal-conservative Nea Dimokratia party have won a clear victory in Greece's parliamentary elections with 40.8 percent of the vote. The left-wing Syriza party was left trailing far behind with just 20.1 percent. Mitsotakis is a few seats shy of being able to form a majority government but has ruled out a coalition. Instead he is pinning his hopes on new elections in which the strongest party would receive a bonus of at least 20 seats.

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El País (ES) /

Austerity broke the left

El País seeks to explain the left opposition's poor performance:

“The prime minister has not been punished either for the high cost of living or the big scandals. ... There is little left today of the Greek left that became a symbol of progressive political renewal for the whole of Europe. ... It is still paying a high price for having had to implement the harsh austerity measures demanded by Europe after the bankruptcy of 2008, which put the country in a situation of tutelage that didn't end until 2022. ... No one on the left has been able to explain this with a convincing narrative.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Politics against the poor

The Guardian stresses that the opposition needs to make itself heard once more:

“Mr Mitsotakis’s market-friendly reforms may have delighted banks and investors, and reassured the comfortable middle classes. But the less well-off continue to suffer the dire consequences of punitive and sustained austerity. The Greek economy remains about a fifth smaller than it was before 2008. Levels of poverty and social exclusion are among the highest in Europe. Financial stability and the paying down of debt to international creditors has been achieved at the expense of general living standards. Mr Mitsotakis will deliver more of the same and the markets will cheer him for it. After a dismal night, progressive forces need to find a way back into the conversation.”

Le Temps (CH) /

The same strategy as Erdoğan

Le Temps draws parallels between Turkey and Greece:

Erdoğan and Mitsotakis, two 'strong men' who knew how to profit from an opposition that is fragmented or lacks credibility and are driven by an eternal obsession with security. Erdoğan sees 'terrorists' of all kinds, and Mitsotakis an 'invasion of migrants'. Whether from within the country, from outside it or simply imagined, the threat reinforces the powers that be. Especially when it comes from the neighbour. ... The Turkish-Greek disputes are historical, but they are heavily influenced by the political agenda of the two men who are campaigning. After all, what could be better than fighting each other in order to govern at home?”

HuffPost Greece (GR) /

See abstention as a warning and take action

HuffPost Greece is concerned by the low turnout:

“The abstention rate was the same percentage as for the first party: 40 percent. ... The alarmingly high number of people who turned their backs on the electoral process once again sent a resounding, almost deafening message. So why all the silence around such a noisy abstention? Almost half of Greece's citizens communicate that they have long been disappointed, that the political system is totally discredited, that they no longer care who will govern the state and their lives. ... But who is more indifferent? The non-voters or those who do nothing to bring the non-voters back to the polls?”

De Standaard (BE) /

A desire for stability

Postponing the elections paid off for Mitsotakis, De Standaard comments:

“In late February 57 people - many of them students - were killed in a train crash near Larissa. The tragedy exposed many Greek abuses and contradicted Mitsotakis' narrative that he had modernised the country. The prime minister ate humble pie and even postponed the elections in the hope that the anger over the disaster would gradually subside. And it worked. Greeks clearly opted for stability and rewarded the prime minister for a series of macroeconomic successes, such as the decline in public debt and unemployment.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

The trauma of unfulfilled promises

Voters no longer see Syriza as a credible alternative, the conservative daily Kathimerini concludes:

“As it turns out, the trauma of the reckless promises of 2015, the adventure of the [reform] referendum when a No became a Yes, and the negative impression left by the 'first left' government are wounds that have not yet healed. ... This defeat does not come out of the blue. In the last four years the opposition party has consistently fallen short not only of the government's share of the vote, but also of the share it secured in the 2019 elections. ... In people's minds, Syriza has become a party of the system. However, its leadership has continued to invest heavily in an anti-system course.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

Pendulum swinging globally to the right

The result can't be put down to national developments, writes the left-leaning daily Efimerida ton Syntakton:

“The ultra-conservative wind blowing in France, Italy and many other European countries - but also in the US with Trumpism - has now also come to Greece. ... If Evia, which burned for days, or Larissa after Tempi gave an overwhelming majority to Nea Demokratia, something is wrong with democracy in Greece. This is not scaremongering but a Europe-wide phenomenon that the left must take seriously: the worldwide conservative wave is leaving no country untouched. The pendulum seems to be swinging in the opposite direction than in the 60s and 70s.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Majority government in the bag after the next round

In Corriere della Sera's opinion, a coalition government is highly unlikely:

“The plan is now clear, and it is the one announced. Under the current electoral law, Nea Dimokratia gets between 145 and 146 MPs, 5 to 6 short of an absolute majority. Now, of course Mitsotakis could form an alliance with the [social democratic] Pasok, which now has the power to tip the scales having secured around 12 percent of the vote. But the Pasok leader has waved off and Mitsotakis doesn't want this either. It is better for him not to reach an agreement and to go into a 'second round' instead. ... Under the electoral law that then applies and which gives the winner a big bonus: if Mitsotakis gets yesterday's votes in July, he will be entitled to so many MPs that he won't have to consult anyone.”