WSJ: New Democracy’s Kyriakos Mitsotakis Is Greece’s ‘New Year Hope’



Kyriakos Mitsotakis_WSJCandidate for New Democracy leadership Kyriakos Mitsotakis is “Greece’s Glimmer of New Year Hope,” according to a Wall street Journal analysis.

On Sunday, supporters of Greece’s main opposition conservative party will vote in the second round of the New Democracy presidential election where Mitsotakis is running against Vangelis Meimarakis.

The former received 27 percent of the total vote in the first round, while Meimarakis received 40 percent. On Sunday, the two men will battle it out for the position of the main opposition chief. Mitsotakis might upset the difference by receiving the votes of the supporters of his defeated rivals.

“In many respects, Mr. Mitsotakis is an unlikely standard-bearer for uncompromising reform of Greece’s corrupt political and economic system. He is the son of a former prime minister, albeit one of the few pre-crisis prime ministers to attempt to grapple with Greece’s deep problems, and his elder sister is a former deputy party leader, leaving him vulnerable to the charge that he is just another dynastic politician. Critics also accuse him of lacking charisma and being a poor media performer,” writes Simon Nixon, who has often written about Greece during the economic crisis.

According to Nixon, “Mitsotakis was widely regarded as one of the most effective ministers in the previous government, winning respect from Greece’s creditors for his efforts to streamline the dysfunctional public administration and introduce new concepts such as promotion on merit.”

The writer regards the election of Mitsotakis as a turning point for Greece, as the 47-year-old politician is the appropriate person to overhaul the tired, discredited conservative party. Mitsotakis would succeed in making New Democracy “a modern center-right, pro-European, pro-business party that could hope to serve as a rallying point for all of Greece’s centrist political forces, including those left stranded by the near-extinction of the center-left PASOK party and the political failure of the pro-business insurgent party Potami.”

A rejuvenated and reinvigorated New Democracy could be a solid opposition to SYRIZA policies that in essence go against the necessary reforms, shun meritocracy and aim at bringing Greece back to “the old politically driven appointments system.” At the same time, it would give the country’s suffering private sector much-needed hope. It would also give creditors leverage against Alexis Tsipras‘ trump card that his leftist government’s alternative are the fascists of Golden Dawn.

“If, after all that Greece has been though in recent years, its largest party chooses as its leader the candidate promising the most complete break with the past and the greatest challenge to his party’s most powerful vested interests, it would send a signal that political renewal in Europe is possible, even under the most-unpromising circumstances,” Nixon’s analysis concludes.