Greek elections: Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s conservative party leads by a large margin

Athens, Greece — According to the official results of more than 60% of polling stations counted in Greece’s elections, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ ruling conservatives have a huge advantage over the left-wing opposition party.

But the new electoral law under which the vote was conducted means Mitsotakis will fight to form a government without seeking a coalition partner.

After nearly two-thirds of the votes were counted, the left-wing opposition party of former prime minister Alexis Tsipras was behind with 20% of the votes, while Mitsotakis’s New Democracy party won 40%.

Sunday’s election is Greece’s first since its economy collapsed under the strict supervision of international lenders who provided a bailout fund during the country’s nearly decade-long financial crisis. Tsipras, 48, served as prime minister during the most tumultuous years of the crisis and has struggled to regain the widespread support he enjoyed when he came to power in 2015 on a promise to reverse the austerity measures imposed by the bailout.

THIS IS A NECESSARY NEWS UPDATE. A previous AP story is below.

According to the official partial results, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his conservative party led the elections in Greece with a large margin on Sunday. But the new electoral law means he will fight to form a government without seeking coalition partners, and a second election is likely.

According to the partial results of 40% of the counted polling stations, Mitsotakis’s New Democracy party won 41% of the votes, while his main rival, Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party, trailed by 20%. If the overall results are anything to go by, Sunday’s showing would be a big disappointment for Syriza and a better-than-expected performance for New Democracy.

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Even despite the partial results, New Democracy celebrated its strong performance.

“(The exit polls) show the clear victory of New Democracy and the clear renewal of the mandate to continue the significant changes pursued by Greek society,” said government spokesman Akisz Szkercos.

Sunday’s election is Greece’s first since its economy collapsed under the strict supervision of international lenders who provided a bailout fund during the country’s nearly decade-long financial crisis. Tsipras, 48, served as prime minister during the most tumultuous years of the crisis and has struggled to regain the broad support he swept to power in 2015 by promising to reverse the austerity measures imposed by the bailout.

Mitsotakis, a 55-year-old Harvard-educated former banking executive, won the 2019 election on a promise of pro-business reforms, vowing to continue cutting taxes, boosting investment and boosting middle-class employment.

But the new electoral law on proportional representation makes it difficult for any party to gain an absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament to form a government on its own, meaning Mitsotakis will likely have to find a coalition partner.

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However, New Democracy has indicated that it would prefer to seek a clear victory in a second election and could govern independently.

“We said that we want to govern directly because that would ensure stability and progress. So we have the right to ask the Greek people for this in the next elections,” Public Order Minister Takisz Theodorikakos said on Skai television shortly after voting closed on Sunday evening.

If a second election is held, likely in late June or early July, the law will change again, moving to a system that rewards the leading party with bonus seats and makes it easier to win a parliamentary majority.

Mitsotakis was consistently leading in pre-election polls. However, its popularity took a hit after a February 28 rail disaster in which 57 people died after a commuter train was accidentally placed on the same track as an oncoming freight train. It was later discovered that the stations were understaffed and that the security infrastructure was damaged and outdated.

The government has also been rocked by a surveillance scandal in which journalists and prominent Greek politicians discovered spyware on their phones. The revelations have deepened mistrust among the country’s political parties at a time when consensus may be sorely needed.

The Pasok party, once dominant in Greece, is likely to be at the center of coalition negotiations. During Greece’s 2009-2018 financial crisis, it overtook Syriza, according to exit polls, the socialist party won around 35 seats in parliament. Its manager, Nikosz Androulakis (44), was at the center of the wiretapping scandal in which his phone was monitored.

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But Androulakis’s poor relationship with Mitsotakis, who he accuses of covering up the wiretapping scandal, means reaching an agreement with conservatives will be difficult. His relationship with Tsipras is also bad, he is accused of trying to poach the voters of Pa┼íko.

In power since 2019, Mitsotakis has delivered unexpectedly high growth, a sharp drop in unemployment and a country in the global bond market that is on the verge of returning to investment grade since losing the market in 2010 when it first went public. financial crisis.

Debts to the International Monetary Fund were paid early. Between 2010 and 2018, European governments and the IMF pumped 280 billion euros ($300 billion) into the Greek economy in the form of emergency loans to prevent the eurozone member from defaulting. In return, they demanded the punishment of cost-cutting measures and reforms, as a result of which the country’s economy shrank by a quarter.

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Theodora Tongas, Demetris Nellas and Nicholas Paphitis contributed to this report.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/polls-open-greeces-election-international-bailout-spending-controls-99486991