Mit­so­takis vic­tory puts Greek pol­i­tics to the test

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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