Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be the next prime minister of the Hellenic Republic after the snap Greek Election 2019.
The center-right New Democracy (ND) party led by Mitsotakis claimed a majority victory on Sunday, July 7, ousting the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. This ND victory was widely expected, in particular following SYRIZA’s disastrous result in the European Parliament poll earlier this year.
It is perhaps the scope of the victory that comes as some shock to political observers. Without question, the ND was forecasted to finish first, but with almost 40 percent of the vote, they have notched their best result since 2007, another year in which they won a majority government. This will be ND’s first time in majority power since just prior to the 2009 election.
Greece’s new prime minister is the son of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, a former ND leader who ran the Greek government from 1990 to 1993.
Voter turnout was slightly higher in this election as opposed to the September 2015 parliamentary poll. That election saw 56.6 percent of voters cast ballots, while the 2019 election’s turnout tracked above 58 percent.
The Greek Electoral System1, 2
Greece’s parliament has 300 seats, with 151 required for a majority. The vast majority of these seats, 231, come via proportional representation at the constituency level, of which there are 59. Should a party not have at least three percent of the national vote, they are ineligible to receive any seats. A handful of seats are elected on a proportional basis against the national vote, while fewer still are first-past-the-post (FPTP) constituencies.
That only gets us to 250 out of 300 seats. The remaining 50 go to the largest party or coalition as a bonus.
Future elections will use a system strictly based on proportional representation, and the 50-seat bonus will end.
Electoral Map of Greece
Greek Election 2019 Results: Votes
On preliminary figures, New Democracy had 39.8 percent of the vote, a rise of almost 12 points from last time. This is also an increase of over six points from the May European elections.
SYRIZA took 31.6 percent of the vote, a drop of four percent. KINAL, the center-left party which replaced PASOK, increased slightly to eight percent.
Greek Election 2019 Results: Seats
Major Changes In Greek Election 2019
The most substantial change in the new Hellenic Parliament will be the party in power. New Democracy won 75 seats in the previous election in September 2015, more than doubling their total now. SYRIZA won 145 seats in the last election, and will come away with almost 60 fewer seats following 2019’s poll.
Far-right nationalist party Golden Dawn (XA) appears to be on its way out of parliament. They won 18 seats in the second election of 2015, but came up just short of three percent of the vote with zero seats. This will be the first time since 2012 that XA is unrepresented.
Two new parties found their way into the Hellenic Parliament. The first is Greek Solution (EL), a right-wing, pro-Greek Orthodox party that won ten seats. As for the other, it is a left-wing party called the European Realistic Disobedience Front (MeRA25). They came up just short of three percent in the European elections, but cleared it in the July election and took nine seats.
What’s Next for Greece?
Greece is swinging back to the right following four years of left-wing government.
The new Mitsotakis government will have to work quickly to address the key issue in Greece today: its economy. While the victory of SYRIZA in 2015 was seen as a rejection of capitalism, this election took it in the other direction once again. One can expect pro-business policies out of the Mitsotakis government. ND hopes this will help continue to whittle down unemployment, which has been dropping to seven-year lows but remains at a very high 18.1 percent.3
When Alexis Tsipras took power in 2015, pressure from the European Union to get their economy in check won him ire. Over the past four years, however, his anti-austerity stances softened, much to the delight of the EU, and as a result some Greek voters found disenchantment with Tsipras. It was the sensation of broken promises that led Mitsotakis into government.4 The new prime minister, like the previous one, is going in saying that things will be different.
Mitsotakis has a difficult job to do in navigating Greece’s economic recovery, keeping the European Union happy, and keeping the Greek voters happy.
1: “Understanding Greece’s electoral system” (by Jeremy Smith, primeeconomics.org website, published 25 January 2015, accessed 7 July 2019)
2: “Visual representation of the seat allocation process of the Electoral Law of Greece” (wikipedia.org website, accessed 7 July 2019)
3: “Greece Unemployment Rate” (Trading Economics website, accessed 7 July 2019)
4: “Europe Tamed a Populist and Now He’s Paying the Price” (by Eleni Chrepa and Paul Tugwell, Bloomberg.com website, published 4 July 2019, accessed 7 July 2019)
X: See more on European elections on Electionarium here