ATHENS, Greece — It was the sweetest of victories. Despite inflicting the most crushing defeat in half a century on the opposition, center-right Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to seek a second national election in a few weeks on Monday, as he does not have a majority in Parliament to govern alone.
With 99.55% of the vote counted early Monday, Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party won 40.79%, double the 20.07% of Syriza, the main leftist opposition party. The socialist Pasok came third with 11.46%.
The margin far exceeded pollsters’ forecasts and was the largest since 1974, when Greece’s first democratic elections were held after the fall of the seven-year military dictatorship.
But the single proportional representation system in force on Sunday means ND wins just 146 of parliament’s 300 seats, five short of a ruling majority. The new elections, expected in late June or early July, will revert to the previous system which gave the first party a bonus of up to 50 seats. This would ensure Mitsotakis a comfortable majority for a second term in office.
Later Monday, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou is due to hand Mitsotakis the mandate to try to form a coalition government – which he is expected to return.
Hours after voting ended on Sunday, the 55-year-old prime minister said he would “follow all constitutional procedures” but strongly hinted he would not take part in coalition talks.
“Undoubtedly, the political earthquake that occurred today calls on all of us to expedite the process for a definitive governmental solution so that our country can have an experienced hand at its helm as soon as possible,” he said. -he declares.
Mitsotakis had long hinted that he would not seek a coalition partner regardless of the election outcome, instead advocating the stabilizing effect of strong, undivided governance.
If Mitsotakis returns the mandate, it will then pass to Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras and then to Pasok leader Nikos Androulakis, who have no realistic chance of success. Each will have a maximum of three days to try to form a coalition. Once all options have been exhausted, a senior judge will be appointed interim prime minister and new elections will be called.
Tsipras, 48, called Mitsotakis on Sunday night to congratulate him.
“The result is exceptionally negative for Syriza,” he said in his first statements. “Fights have winners and losers.”
Tsipras, who served as prime minister from 2015 to 2019, said his party would meet to discuss the results and where they came from. “However, the election cycle is not over yet,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of time. We must immediately make all the necessary changes in order to be able to fight the next crucial and final electoral battle in the best possible conditions.”
Mitsotakis, a former Harvard-educated banking executive, came to power in 2019 on the promise of business-focused reforms and pledged to continue tax cuts, boost investment and bolster jobs for the population. middle class.
He has been credited with Greece’s successful handling of the pandemic and two crises with neighboring Turkey, while overseeing high growth and job creation after the end of the 2009-2018 Greek financial crisis, but a wiretapping scandal and a train disaster damaged his grades.