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Outsider wins the battle for New Democracy

11 January 2016 / 13:01:42  GRReporter
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Following his decisive victory in the party elections, at twelve o’clock today Kyriakos Mitsotakis will lead the centre-right New Democracy party. The final result of the vote will be announced later today but with 75% of the ballots counted, he is holding the lead with 51.6% over his opponent Evangelos Meimarakis who has 48.4%. The sources indicate that the ballots from the polling stations in Athens and Thessaloniki are being counted at present and the difference between the two is increasing.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, aged 47, has become the 9th president of New Democracy despite the opposite forecasts. His participation in the second round of the intraparty competition was surprising to many analysts who thought that recent caretaker chairman Evangelos Meimarakis or governor of Central Macedonia Apostolos Tzitzikostas would take the leadership of the Greek right-wing party.

Greek commentators point out that several factors played a role in his victory. The first was the time gained as a result of the unsuccessful attempt to hold the elections on 22 November and the way Mitsotakis used it for his campaign. The second was the clear political strategy that he presented immediately after announcing that he would run for the party leadership. The third factor was the argument that New Democracy should be renovated, which failed to convince the majority of party members and sympathizers. Furthermore, his position that he could be a more effective opponent to Alexis Tsipras outweighed the opinion that Evangelos Meimarakis could be a better leader of New Democracy.

Another factor that played a role in the choice of Mitsotakis was recent rumours that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in contact with former Prime Minister and "blue" leader Costas Karamanlis, who supported Evangelos Meimarakis in the struggle for leadership. While Mitsotakis was firm that he would not participate in a common office with Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA, Meimarakis was evasive. In the second round of elections, New Democracy supporters expressed their apparent disagreement with such an option with a powerful vote in favour of Mitsotakis.

It is worth noting also that many pro-European Greeks see him as a young politician, a supporter of liberalism, while Meimarakis is perceived as a representative of that wing of New Democracy, which supports the strong state intervention in the economy.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis with his family

Born in 1968 in Athens, Kyriakos Mitsotakis graduated from the American College in Athens. He continued his studies at Harvard University where he studied Social Studies, at Stanford University with a degree in International Economic Relations and obtained an MBA degree from Harvard Business School.

Before entering Greek politics, Kyriakos Mitsotakis worked in private banks and consulting companies in Greece and the UK. He was first elected as an MP in 2004 and from 2013 to 2015, he was Minister of Administrative Reform and e-Governance in the government of Antonis Samaras.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis is married and has three children. He is the son of former Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Konstantinos Mitsotakis, whom he visited immediately after his victory last night. According to the profile of the 97-year veteran of Greek politics, he congratulated him and wished him to become Prime Minister soon.

Tags: PoliticsInternal party electionsNew DemocracyKyriakos Mitsotakis
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