Wall Street Journal: Greek voters rewarded ruling party's pro-business push

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Wall Street Journal: Greek voters rewarded ruling party's pro-business pushGreeks also showed they wanted to put far behind them the dark days of the 2010-18 economic and austerity crisis

Protecting their wallets and even setting aside high food costs, Greeks heard and answered Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ call to let him continue an economic recovery, giving New Democracy a resounding win in elections, if not enough to form a government.

Falling short of a parliamentary majority, he said he won’t try to form a coalition and will go to a second round, likely July 2, in which a sliding scale providing up to 50 seats in the 300-member Parliament could see him keep the single-party rule.

The Wall Street Journal noted how voters tilted toward the economy in setting aside criticisms of a surveillance scandal, alleged refugee pushbacks, a 24 percent tax on food, and a deadly train crash in backing the Conservatives.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/greece-holds-elections-amid-economic-recovery-and-political-scandal-f633ba7f

It was a startling victory that was far ahead of surveys showing a 7 percent win – New Democracy’s 40.70 percent doubled that of the 20.06 for the major opposition SYRIZA and repeated the rout of July 2019 snap polls.

The center-left PASOK-KINAL Movement for Change – led by former stalwarts of the PASOK Socialists who once dominated Greek politics – finished third with 11.5 percent and enough votes to let Mitsotakis form a coalition.

But he’s seen moving ahead for a second-round all-out win, with PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis – whose phone was bugged by the National Intelligence Service EYP saying he wouldn’t work with a government led by Mitsotakis.

“A government is needed which believes in reforms and is able to implement them. And this cannot come from fragile numbers or uncertain parliamentary relationships,” he said.

Greeks also showed they wanted to put far behind them the dark days of the 2010-18 economic and austerity crisis that saw a New Democracy-PASOK coalition and a SYRIZA coalition with a far-right party accept big pay cuts, tax hikes, and slashed pensioners to get 326 billion euros ($352.78 billion) in three international bailouts.

Mitsotakis’ government set aside COVID-19 pandemic health measures in 2022 to lure tourists – the country’s biggest revenue provider – and the economy grew some 6 percent and is on a curve to grow 2 percent in 2023.

DOUBLE DIGIT DECISION

He has also lured foreign investors, including high-tech and Information Technology giants setting up offices in Greece and his government restarted the 8-billion euro ($8.66 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on Athens’ coast that was blocked by SYRIZA.

The pro-business government has opened the doors to investors, even moving toward allowing building on protected lands and public beaches being taken over by luxury resort developers.

He also warned voters to remember SYRIZA rule that took Greece to the brink of leaving the Eurozone of the 20 countries in the 27-member bloc of the European Union using the euro as a currency.

His government, buoyed by 32 billion euros ($34.63 billion) in EU COVID subsidies, paid up to 90 percent of electric bills that soared in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upsetting international markets.

Gerassimos Moschonas, a political scientist at Athens’s Panteion University, told the paper that the Mitsotakis government won approval for its handling of foreign policy, defense, the digitization of public services, and the economy, which trumped grumbling over inflation and food prices.

Mitsotakis’s ability to appeal to educated centrist voters has “broadened the appeal of New Democracy beyond its conservative base,” Moschonas added.

New Democracy’s electoral strength “is indissolubly linked with the significant weaknesses of the opposition,” he said.

Nikos Alivizatos, Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at Athens University and a former interior minister said Mitsotakis’ winning appeal was convincing voters he would keep the economic engine running, not in reverse.

“This is the reason for the inconceivably mild response to the surveillance scandal,” he said, which affected journalists, business executives, and even government ministers and military leaders – but not the voters.

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

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