Conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to be sworn in as Greece’s new prime minister Monday, a day after his resounding win over left-wing Alexis Tsipras, who led the country through the tumultuous final years of its international bailouts.
Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party won 39.8 percent of the vote, giving him 158 seats in the 300-member parliament, a comfortable governing majority. Tsipras’ Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, garnered 31.5 percent. The extremist right-wing Golden Dawn, Greece’s third largest party during the height of the financial crisis, failed to make the 3 percent threshold to enter parliament.
Mitsotakis will have to move fast to deal with the myriad of problems still plaguing the economy. Europe’s finance ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday and will be discussing Greece, which still has stringent fiscal targets to meet even though it doesn’t directly receive bailout loans.
“I assume the governance of the country with full awareness of the national responsibility,” Mitsotakis said in his victory speech Sunday night. “I know of the difficulties that lie ahead for me and for my associates. But I draw strength from the strength of the people.”
Greece’s economy shrank by a quarter and poverty and unemployment levels soared during the country’s nearly decade-long financial crisis. Although its finances are on the mend and the economy is expected to grow by 2.2 percent this year, it still has a long way to go to make up the economic output lost.
The country’s debt stands at about 181 percent of annual GDP and has pledged to continue producing large primary surpluses - the budget excluding debt servicing - for years to come.
Mitsotakis said Sunday he would stick to his campaign pledges of lowering taxes, attracting investments and cutting through red tape to make Greece more business-friendly.
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