Greek election: Resurgent centre-right party poised for victory | Sunday Observer

Greek election: Resurgent centre-right party poised for victory

Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Kyriakos Mitsotakis could end era of fragile coalitions with decisive win, polls suggest

As the sun sets over the Acropolis, bathing the monument in the gentle light of a dying day, Kyriakos Mitsotakis ascends the podium, punching the air in jubilant mood. The backdrop may be antiquity’s most famous site but before him is a sea of blue and white, the colour of the Greek flag being waved by the crowd.

The man poised to become Greece’s next prime minister takes in the scene. “On Sunday Greece will become blue, the blue of the sky, the blue of the sea,” he thunders. “On Sunday we vote, on Monday we turn a page.” Three days before snap elections, the opposition leader is on a roll. Democracy can produce unexpected results but every analyst agrees this is an election of foregone conclusion.

All polls point to victory for Mitsotakis’s centre-right New Democracy, with most suggesting the party is on course to win an outright majority in what would be a first for a country governed by fragile coalitions for the past decade.

On Thursday, a Pulse survey showed the conservatives leading the leftist Syriza by eight percentage points. If so, New Democracy would acquire between 155 and 159 seats in the 300-seat parliament repeating its spectacular performance in the European election in May which prompted the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, to call the vote three months ahead of schedule.

Mitsotakis, the son of a former premier who has been forced to face down accusations of privilege and nepotism, has new-found confidence.

With the wind behind him, the cosmopolitan former banker has waged a tireless campaign, rolling up the sleeves of his crisp white shirts and criss-crossing the country to listen to the problems of ordinary Greeks.

“Standing here on this hallowed ground I am reminded of the ancients,” he told the crowd on Thursday night. “Power is not the goal; it is just a tool to make the lives of citizens better.” Mitsotakis has been credited with rehabilitating one of Europe’s more traditional conservative parties, one that not that long ago was associated with the cronyism and corrupt policies blamed for the debt-stricken country’s financial woes.

“What we are seeing is a personal victory for a liberal reformist leader. In many ways New Democracy is a discredited party held responsible for the problems that led Greece to requiring bailout programmes,” said the political analyst Aris Hatzis. “He has become a far better speaker, much more relaxed, much more confident.”