Greek conservatives score ‘clear victory’ in snap election

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A banner reads "Macedonia is Greece" as demonstrators hold Greek flags during a rally in Athens, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. Greece's Parliament is to vote this coming week on whether to ratify the agreement that will rename its northern neighbor North Macedonia. Macedonia has already ratified the deal, which, polls show, is opposed by a majority of Greeks. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The opposition New Democracy party has won the highest share of the country’s vote, beating out the ruling Syriza party, according to official projections. The party’s leader said he “will not fail to honor your hopes.”

With more than 90% of the votes counted, Greece’s conservative New Democracy (ND) is set to win Greece’s parliamentary elections, beating leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party.

Greek Interior Ministry projections showed ND with 39.8% of the vote, ahead of Syriza’s 31.5%.

Outgoing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras conceded defeat to his opponent on Sunday evening, saying “we accept the verdict of the people.”

“We took difficult decisions to bring Greece where it is today and paid a heavy political price,” Tsipras said, referring to his handling of the euro debt crisis. His left-wing Syriza party was voted into power with an anti-austerity mandate in 2015.

However, within a year, Tsipras watched his approval rating plummet after moving forward with a third bailout plan despite an overwhelming “No” vote during a referendum on the EU’s terms.

A new day dawns

New Democracy is led by a 51-year-old Harvard graduate, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. His party has promised to bring in investment and crackdown on crime in neighborhoods of Athens known for their strong anarchist links.

In his first statement after the election, Mitsotakis vowed to bring economic growth, jobs and a better life to Greeks. He called on the hundreds of thousands who emigrated during the country’s financial crisis to return home.

“A painful cycle has closed,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “I will not fail to honor your hopes.”

The election result is expected to hand Mitsotakis an outright majority with 155-167 seats in the 300-seat legislative house. The exit polls showed Tsipras’s party will have up to 82 seats.

Varoufakis returns

Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Mitsotakis for his landslide election win. In a letter published on social media, the outgoing European Commission president said helping Greece get through its financial crisis was one of his commission’s “proudest achievements.”

MeRA25, an anti-austerity party formed by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, could elect up to 14 lawmakers.

The center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) was projected to win 6 to 8% of the vote and the Communists (KKE) 5 to 7%.

The far-right Golden Dawn party was among a handful of small parties with less than the 3% threshold required to enter the Greek Parliament.

ls,kw/ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)

DW

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