GREECE :Greece’s opposition conservatives returned to power with a landslide victory in snap elections on Sunday, and Prime Minister-elect Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he had a clear mandate for change, pledging more investments and fewer taxes.
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.
Conservative 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.
Greek opposition New Democracy conservative party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, talks to his supporters after win the parliamentary elections at the New Democracy headquarters in Athens, on Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP)
Mitsotakis said in a televised address that the election outcome gave him a strong and clear mandate to change Greece.
“I am committed to fewer taxes, many investments, for good and new jobs, and growth which will bring better salaries and higher pensions in an efficient state,” Mitsotakis said.
Tsipras said he respected the will of the Greek people.
“Today, with our head held high we accept the people’s verdict. To bring Greece to where it is today we had to take difficult decisions (with) a heavy political cost,” he told journalists.