New Democracy, Greece’s major conservative party, has a new leader. Kyriakos Mitsotakis is promising a “common-sense” approach to politics, aiming to bring the party to the center and build “a great center-right movement.”
“We have one purpose. To express all the forces that stand against the populism of an incompetent government,” Mitsotakis told supporters Sunday night, referring to the leftist Syriza government led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The son of former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Kyriakos has an impressive resume. He studied at Harvard University, before going on to work as an economic analyst at Chase Manhattan Group. Mitsotakis was first elected to the parliament in 2004.
The vote follows the resignation of New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras in July 2015 after an election loss. Interim leader Vangelis Meimarakis, who led the party through another defeat in the September 2015 general election, was the favored candidate in the leadership race, after he secured an 11.3 percent lead over Mitsotakis in the first round of voting. In the final ballot Mitsotakis held a two-point lead over Meimarakis with 70 percent of votes counted, but the final result will not be released until later Monday.
2015 was not a good year for New Democracy. In the January election, the party won just 76 seats, lost its position as the governing party and obtained its worst-ever share of seats. The left-wing Syriza, elected on a promise to resist European-imposed austerity measures agreed to by previous governments, took power for the first time.
A glimmer of hope for the right emerged when Syriza leader Tsipras resigned as prime minster in August, triggering a new election. Polls showed Syriza and New Democracy neck-and-neck, but the final result saw a vote gap of 7 percentage points between the two, with Syriza returning to government and New Democracy losing one net seat from the January result.