Supporters of New Democracy celebrated in the streets of Athens on Sunday (July 7) as the conservatives returned to power with a landslide victory in snap elections.
The win appeared driven by fatigue with years of European Union-enforced belt-tightening, combined with high unemployment, after the country almost crashed out of the euro zone at the height of its financial travails in 2015.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy had a commanding lead of 39.6 percent of the vote based on 73 percent of the votes counted versus 31.6 percent for incumbent leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza, the official interior ministry tally showed.
Exit polls showed New Democracy winning between 155 and 167 seats in the 300 member parliament, taking advantage of an electoral system which gives bonus seats to the frontrunner.
Mitsotakis said that the election outcome gave him a strong and clear mandate to change Greece.
He said discussions with European creditors would begin immediately, and his party already had a plan for a bold reform agenda.
“There he is, the prime minister!” crowds shouted outside his party headquarters, as cars passed honking their horns and waving flags.