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Mitsotakis on course to return as Greek PM in new vote

ATHENS (AFP) – After an inconclusive election in May, Greece returns to the ballot box next Sunday with conservative former prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on course to win a second straight four-year term.

Polls show that Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party is in line to be the clear winner, with between 40 and 43.9 per cent of the vote.

Mitsotakis, 55, last month cruised to victory with a score of 40.79 per cent, more than 20 points ahead of his nearest rival, former leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

But he fell short of a workable Parliamentary majority and declined to form a coalition government.

A Pulse poll for private Skai TV last week said nine out of 10 New Democracy voters would vote conservative again on Sunday.

A woman sits at a bus stop featuring a campaign poster of leader of the conservative New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis. PHOTO: AFP

Mitsotakis said that under his stewardship, Greeks paid lower taxes and the country became a success story attractive to investors, posting growth above the European average and returning tourism revenue to nearly pre-pandemic levels.

“I promise Greeks that (economic) growth will continue,” he told Skai TV last week.

“We are more experienced, more prepared and more determined.”

Mitsotakis’ critics counter that he showered billions of euros on political allies and friendly media, tried to bury a major wiretapping scandal and attempted to dodge responsibility for Greece’s worst train disaster in February. This time, Harvard graduate and former McKinsey financial consultant Mitsotakis faces a challenge on his right that could determine the size of his Parliamentary group.

A new hard-right party, Niki, narrowly missed out on Parliamentary seats in May and is now polling over the required three-per-cent threshold, as is the established nationalist party Greek Solution.

Another new party, Plefsi Eleftherias, headed by hard leftist former parliament speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou is also likely to clinch parliamentary representation.

And former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis also seeks election under the radical left MeRa25 party. If eight parties succeed in entering parliament on Sunday, the winner will need a higher percentage of the vote to maximise their Parliamentary group in the 300-seat chamber.

Mitsotakis has been criticised for warning that a third election could be held in August, at the height of the busy tourism season, if a government cannot be formed soon.