Greece: Conservatives receive clear mandate from Greek people

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis casts his vote in Athens, Greece on May 21, 2023. Greeks living in Greece started casting their ballots for the general elections on Sunday. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

Greek conservatives received a clear mandate from Greek people to continue efforts to change the country with a strong government, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday after his New Democracy (ND) party won the general elections by a huge margin.

ND garnered 40.79 percent of the votes, securing 145 seats in the next 300-member parliament, according to 96.03 percent of the votes counted, official results released by the Interior Ministry showed.

The main opposition party, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, gained 20.05 percent of votes with 72 seats, while another three parties that passed the three percent threshold will also enter the new parliament, said the Interior Ministry.

“The results of the ballot are clear. They show that New Democracy has the approval of citizens to rule autonomous and strong,” Mitsotakis told media at the party’s headquarters, shortly after receiving a congratulatory call from SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance’s leader Alexis Tsipras.

The third biggest party in Sunday’s elections was the socialist PASOK-KINAL (Panhellenic Socialist Movement-Movement for Change) which received 11.52 percent of the votes with 41 seats, the results showed.

The other two parties to enter the parliament are the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 7.21 percent of the votes and 26 seats, and the right-wing Elliniki Lysi (Greek Solution) with 4.45 percent of the votes and 16 seats. Voters’ turnout stood at 60.26 percent.

Without achieving an absolute majority, ND will have to seek for a coalition to form a government, an option he already declined during the pre-election campaign. And Mitsotakis had implied that ND will seek an absolute majority in the follow-up elections.

The final results are expected to be announced on Monday. After that, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will give a mandate to the leader of the biggest party to form a new government. Under the constitution, leaders of the top three parties have three days each to form a coalition.

If all efforts fail, a caretaker government will lead Greece to a second ballot by early July. The runoff vote could be held on June 25, local media reported on Sunday citing sources from ND.

In the second ballot, a revised electoral system which provides a bonus of up to 50 extra seats for the winning party, will be used, facilitating the formation of a single-party government. Political analysts say, under this system, the frontrunner could win a majority in parliament with about 38 percent of the votes.

In the previous general elections in July 2019, ND had won 39.8 percent of the vote with 158 seats in the parliament, and SYRIZA 31.5 percent of the votes with 86 seats. ■

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