Greece’s conservative New Democracy party stormed to victory in a parliamentary election on Sunday, early official results showed, with voters giving reformist Kyriakos Mitsotakis another four-year term as prime minister.
With about a quarter of votes counted, centre-right New Democracy was leading with 40.5 percent of the vote, interior ministry figures showed.
It was more than 20 points clear of Syriza, a radical leftist party which won elections in 2015 at the peak of a debilitating debt crisis and which ran the country until 2019, when it lost to New Democracy.
“Obviously this is a great defeat,” Euclid Tsakalotos, who was finance minister under the Syriza administration, told Greece’s Skai TV.
Sunday’s vote is the second in the past five weeks, as a first poll on May 21, held under a different electoral system, failed to give a single party absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament. The system used in Sunday’s poll gives the leading party bonus seats depending on voter support.
With 60% of the votes counted, Mitsotakis was likely to get 157 seats in the 300-seat parliament, interior ministry data showed.
Mitsotakis, who was prime minister from 2019 until stepping down in favour of a caretaker premier following the inconclusive May vote, has vowed to push ahead with reforms to rebuild the country’s credit rating after the debt crisis which wracked the nation for a decade.
A former banker and scion of a powerful political family, Mitsotakis has promised to boost revenue from the vital tourist industry, create jobs and increase wages to near the European Union average.
“Μr. Mitsotakis and New Democracy have been meeting the new social demands. They have done the necessary readjustments that people have been demanding from the political system, from the political parties, for us all to move ahead,” New Democracy spokesman Akis Skertsos told ERT state TV.
The COVID-19 pandemic and a deadly rail crash in February also exposed the shortcomings of the health and public transport systems. But a cost of living crisis and economic hardship have more recently topped voters’ concerns.
“I expect a lot (from the new government),” pensioner Giorgos Katzimertzis told Reuters.
“The main thing is the health system, the economy, so we can live (decently) because things are difficult. I am a pensioner, I was on the fire brigade, and now I don’t have a dime.”
Sunday’s election was held in the shadow of a migrant shipwreck this month in which hundreds are feared to have perished off southern Greece. One of the worst such disasters in years, it has exposed the parties’ divisions over migration.
An anti-immigrant party, the Spartans, which said Greece was threatened by uncontrolled migration, was the surprise of the campaign. It was set to gain 4.7 of the vote and up to 13 seats in parliament, based on the early results.
The grouping was catapulted from relative obscurity after support from Ilias Kasiadiaris, the frontman of the now-banned Golden Dawn far-right party. His own party was barred from the elections and he endorsed the Spartans from jail.
The shipwreck disaster dominated campaigning in the run-up to this election.
Rescuers found 104 survivors and recovered 82 bodies but up to 750 people are thought to have been packed on the ramshackle vessel heading from Libya to Italy. The boat had been shadowed by the Greek coast guard, which said occupants refused all offers of help.
Mitsotakis, whose administration has taken a tough line on migration, has blamed “wretched traffickers” for the disaster and praised the coast guard for rescuing people. Tsipras has questioned why the coast guard did not intervene earlier.
Following are the official results released by the Interior Ministry and the projected seats in the 300-seat parliament.
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