The parliamentary elections held on Sunday witnessed a resounding triumph for Greece's ruling New Democracy party, securing a significant win.
However, their victory fell short of attaining an absolute majority. The electoral landscape was dominated by pressing issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, a disconcerting wiretapping scandal, and the nation's most tragic train crash to date.
These critical matters fueled the electorate's sentiments, manifesting as a potent blend of concern, frustration, and anger.
In a stunning display of political prowess, Greece's center-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis achieved a resounding victory, dealing the opposition its most crushing defeat in 50 years.
Yet, despite this tantalizing triumph, driven by his aim to secure a parliamentary majority that would allow him to govern independently, Mitsotakis has opted for a second national election in the coming weeks.
This move underscores the intricacies of Greek politics, highlighting the importance of securing a strong mandate for effective governance. Mitsotakis's decision to seek another electoral mandate reveals his determination to forge ahead with a transformative agenda, navigating the delicate balance of power in pursuit of stable and decisive leadership for Greece.
Mitsotakis' New Democracy party secured a commanding victory, capturing 41 per cent of the vote compared to the leftwing Syriza's 20 per cent, leaving Socialist Pasok in third place at 11.46 per cent. The voter turnout stood at 61 per cent.
Surpassing pollsters' expectations, New Democracy's margin of victory was the largest since Greece's inaugural democratic elections in 1974 following the overthrow of the military dictatorship.
Under the one-off proportional representation system employed in elections, despite securing 146 seats in the 300-seat Parliament, the New Democratic party fell just five seats short of a governing majority. Anticipated to take place on June 25 or July 2, the upcoming elections will revert to the previous system, granting the first party a bonus of up to 50 seats - this adjustment will certainly ensure Mitsotakis a comfortable majority for a second term in power.
The elections unfolded against the backdrop of a wiretapping scandal that rocked the government, in which the government was accused of spying on opposition politicians and journalists, triggering concerns about the erosion of the rule of law.
Referred to by one party as a Greek Watergate, the scandal resulted in the departure of several prominent government figures – including a nephew of Mitsotakis, who was working as the prime minister's chief of staff, and also of the head of Greek intelligence.
However, the most devastating blow to the government came in the form of a tragic train collision in February, claiming the lives of 57 individuals, including numerous university students. This catastrophic event prompted mass demonstrations across Greece, with outraged citizens expressing their frustration over corruption and the long-standing infrastructure deficiencies.
The incident also led some voters to turn away from established political parties, as young protesters tearfully voiced a sense of betrayal by their politicians.
With nearly half a million first-time voters among the 9.8 million registered voters, the rail disaster also influenced the choices made at the ballot box.
In a remarkable economic revival over the past decade, the country has made impressive strides towards regaining investment-grade status in the global market, a milestone not achieved since losing market access in 2010.
However, the tangible benefits of this financial progress had yet to reach many Greeks grappling with soaring inflation and the burden of living costs.
The severe financial crisis that plagued the country throughout the 2010s necessitated stringent austerity measures, resulting in a quarter reduction in GDP and substantial cuts to salaries and pensions, leaving thousands of individuals teetering on the brink of poverty.
The impact of these hardships played a crucial role in shaping the sentiments of voters as they headed to the polls. For the past four years, the center-right has held the reins of power in Greece, a tenure marked by notable economic growth of nearly 6 per cent last year.
Mitsotakis, presenting himself as the one capable of propelling the Greek economy and cementing the recent progress, made a compelling case to the voters. The Greek people have seemingly responded with greater enthusiasm than anticipated, expressing their confidence in Mitsotakis's leadership to steer the country towards continued prosperity.
As per rules, following the official election results, the President will extend invitations to leaders of the second and third-place parties to forge a coalition. If these efforts prove unsuccessful, a caretaker government will be established, leading to a second round of voting under revised rules where the winning party will only need to secure 37 per cent of the votes for victory.
So, apparently, Mitsotakis is all set to return as a tangibly powerful prime minister to continue the current economic revival of Greece.