Mitsotakis victory puts Greek politics to the test
The rise of liberal Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the New Democracy leadership has shaken Greece’s fragile political landscape, according to a report by EurActiv Greece.
On Sunday, Mitsotakis won the intraparty elections, receiving 52.43% of the vote, as the former ruling party had been without an elected leader since July, when Antonis Samaras resigned after the “No” vote in the Greek referendum.
In an interview with EurActiv before the party elections, Mitsotakis noted that Greece was being treated [by its EU partners] more like a Balkan country, and less as an equal.
“Our country needs to regain its lost credibility with our European partners. Unfortunately, they do not trust us,” Mitsotakis said, mainly blaming ex-Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis for the situation.
“European cohesion has been shaken as Europe grew in width wide but not in depth. The institutions need to be strengthened. Solidarity should be stimulated,” he stressed.
New Democracy consists of three different ideological factions, he explained.
One is a “popular right” tendency traditionally represented by former premier Kostas Karamanlis, a liberal one promoted by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and a right-wing faction, which helped the new leader get elected.
Mitsotakis was the only New Democracy lawmaker who didn’t vote for Prokopis Pavlopoulos as the President of Greece in February 2015. Pavlopoulos, who is also a party member, and belongs to the Karamanlis camp, was proposed as a candidate by the Syriza-led government, a move that triggered reactions over the “special” relationship between Alexis Tsipras and Kostas Karamanlis.
But since he was defeated in snap general elections in 2009, Kostas Karamanlis has kept his distance from politics, and avoided making public statements, despite still being a lawmaker for the party.
“He has been absent for years […] he cannot only intervene to urge Greeks to vote yes in the referendum and to support Meimarakis [the rival of Mitsotakis] in the party elections,” a New Democracy official, who asked not to be named, told EurActiv.
The centre-right European People’s Party hailed the change in New Democracy’s leadership.
“I believe that Mitsotakis will be able to maintain the Greek centre-right united and build on New Democracy’s past achievements,” Joseph Daul, the President of the European People’s Party (EPP), told EurActiv.
Daul continued saying that “the new leader will enhance ND’s role as a strong proEuropean alternative force in the country”, and will lead the party to victory in the next parliamentary elections.
“But more importantly, I hope that the party will be able to unite the people of Greece behind a common reform agenda,” he noted, adding that the EPP counts on ND as a stable and credible partner promote a pro-European agenda.