Greece’s snap election on July 7 resulted in a clear victory for the conservative New Democracy party taking 39.85% of the votes. This is a majority 158 seats in the 300-member parliament.
The Syriza party won 31.53% of the votes and emerged as the representative force of the centre-left.
On July 9, the new government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis was formed. Despite an expected degree of euphoria among New Democracy followers, the future does not seem too bright for both the government and the country.
The risk of social conflicts and attempts against the rule of law will always present and threatening.
Meanwhile, the new cabinet has taken a “mammoth” proportion with 51 government ministers and deputy ministers. What is more, the new cabinet is mainly masculine, with only five women.
It appears that Mitsotakis was forced to respond to the demands of party clientelism and business interests which all played a key role in his party’s victory. What is more, Mitsotakis made promises to the middle class and SMEs regarding a generous reduction in taxes, a populist engagement that cannot be fulfilled.
Mitsotakis was elected president of the party no thanks to his political performance, but due to the internal ‘civil war’ between Christian-democrats, nationalists, liberals and the far-right. In 2015, Greece’s former PM Antonis Samaras, a nationalist, gave his support to Mitsotakis. Since then, the policies announced by the new leader of the party were strongly influenced by the former prime minister.
For instance, the strong opposition of the party against the agreement on the long-running Macedonian name issue was a result of such an influence.
With the exception of some politicians who served as ministers in past governments of New Democracy, the majority of the new ministers are totally inexperienced in any kind of public administration
Also, Mitsotakis is a fan of the ultraconservative views of EPP President Manfred Weber and the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz while many MPs and MEPs expressed their admiration for Viktor Orbán or even Matteo Salvini.
The first blatant obstacle is that a majority of the cabinet members is inexperienced. Starting from the Prime Minister who has only a short experience as Minister.
With the exception of some politicians who served as ministers in past governments of New Democracy, the majority of the new ministers are totally inexperienced in any kind of public administration.
In addition, among the experienced ministers are those who tend to flock toward the party’s far-right tendency.
If we take into consideration that some far-right elements were also elected from the lists of New Democracy, then the far-right component emerged strongly after the July 7 elections.
What is more, the new persons in power have complete ignorance of the problems faced by a vast majority of Greeks. Poverty, low income and labour rights are topics never touched on by New Democracy since Mitsotakis became its leader.
In addition, many on the PM’s entourage and allies propose a tough policy – abolishing the ‘asylum’ at public universities, among others – which probably will likely lead to social conflicts.
The role ‘interests’ played
The role that different business and media groups played in securing a victory for Mitsotakis was instrumental. Now they expect expressions of gratitude.
It was announced, for example, that the new government will quickly resolve the future of Athens’ former airport in the coastal municipality of Elliniko. This huge property is claimed by a powerful financial group. Another case is the one of the Gold Mine in Chalchidiki. The latest represents one of the major environmental threats in Greece.
But Mitsotakis must fulfil the demands of others in media as well in the sector of health and insurance to mention only some.
Will he manage to make everybody happy? Will he avoid the reaction of society and possibly of the EU?
Today, the nationalist tendency allied with the far-right since 2012 will push to politics which could affect social equilibrium, labour rights, migrants, the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of media
New Democracy has always had a strong level of nepotism. The PM is the son of the former PM Konstantinos Mitsotakis, brother of MP Dora Bakoyanni, a former Minister herself whose son is the new ND Mayor of Athens.
Among the parliamentarians, there are Konstantinos Karamanlis, a former PM and Kostas Karamanlis, now Minister of Public Works. Kostas is the son of Achilles Karamanlis, who served as Minister of Public Works. Both are nephews of Konstantinos Karamanlis who served as PM and President of the Republic.
Christos Dimas, an MP and undersecretary in the Ministry of Development, is the son of Stavros Dimas, a former MP, Minister and Commissioner.
Among the MPs many are daughters and sons or nephews of former ministers of MPs.
And what about the internal opposition?
The ND-Pasok coalition government of 2012 applied a severe austerity policy that destroyed the middle class. Unemployment and poverty reached unprecedented dimensions. The government faced strong opposition by Syriza but also by the internal faction of Christian-democrats, the so-called “Karamanlis faction”. Its members frequently criticised the measures government took against the most vulnerable parts of the society.
Two of the prominent members of the faction were the actual President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the former President of the party and now an MEP Vangelis Meimarakis. Their interventions were crucial and expressed the moderate people of the party.
However before the European Elections and once again before the snap elections in July, the historical leader of the faction Konstantinos Karamanlis had to openly support Mitsotakis.
This does not mean capitulation. The Christian-democratic faction is still powerful inside the party and the electorate and a potentially strong opponent of any far-right or neo-liberal exaggeration of the new government.
There is at least one precedent today. When Konstantinos Mitsotakis formed his government in 1990, he immediately faced a shadow like government formed by three prominent members of the Karamanlis faction. The nationalist tendency led by Samaras undermined any attempt to resolve the Macedonian name issue and at the end split the party and overturned the government in 1993.
Today, the nationalist tendency allied with the far-right since 2012 will push to politics which could affect social equilibrium, labour rights, migrants, the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of media.
The conflict of factions inside ND never ended and it is this undeclared (for the moment) “civil war” that can effectively threaten the future of Greece’s new Mitsotakis government
The role of the right wing in Pasok was also instrumental in the victory of ND. This is why two of its members became ministers provoking another mini-crisis to the former party of Andreas Papandreou.
It should be expected that if Mitsotakis will encounter difficulties he has not to expect any further support from them. The right wing of Pasok proved to have its own agenda which was not based on political loyalty.
The conflict of factions inside ND never ended and it is this undeclared (for the moment) “civil war” that can effectively threaten the future of Greece’s new Mitsotakis government.