Greece Legislative Elections: A Big Yes to Mitsotakis


By Zeynep Önal Aytaç



Long-waited Greece Legislative Elections took place on May 21. Greeks voted for their parliament and gave the green light to Mitsotakis for four more years to lead the country. Despite the great victory Mitsotakis's New Democracy failed to reach the sufficient majority to form a single-party government. Now, Greece is waiting for the second election on June 25 to finalize the race.


On May 21, parliamentary elections took place in Greece. Analysts framed this election as one of the most unpredictable elections in the country’s election history. In post-crisis Greece, the political roadmap and continuity held a significant place in the Greeks’ political agenda. That’s why May 21 was waiting with huge interest by the public. The elections have ended with 60% voter turnout. This is a relatively high participation ratio and a positive indication for democracy and active citizenship notions. Also, for the first time, voters who live abroad were able to vote in the elections. Nearly 80% of eligible voters participated and voted in the elections.[i]

Since Greece is still in economic recovery, the international financial market and authorities have closely observed the election process. Although some may disagree, it can be argued that Athens has regained the European Union’s trust in terms of economy and has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the eurozone.[ii] However, the country and its people still suffer from the rising cost of living and decreasing purchasing power. As a result, unemployment and inflation were the main issues in the country’s political agenda. Additionally, during the election era, the most deadly train crash, a wiretapping scandal, and migration policies were the primary questions in the political debates.

Twenty-seven political parties, 8 alliances, and one independent candidate participated in the parliamentary elections. The rising threat of fascism in Greece has led the far-right Hellenes Party, linked with the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, to be banned from the elections. According to analysts, the Hellenes Party has 4% of vote potential and would pass the 3% threshold for the parliament.[iii] Among various parties, the major political actors for Greek politics were the centre-right party New Democracy, left-wing Syriza, and Pasok. During the campaign process, the incumbent ruling party ND has promised to cut unemployment to less than 8%, achieve 3% annual growth, and boost foreign direct investment. The left-wing Syriza has pledged to increase wages and pensions, cap profit margins in the energy sector, reduce weekly working hours, protect minority rights, and abolish Greece’s bank rescue fund. As the other main political actor in Greek domestic politics, Socialist PASOK has formulated a different discourse from other parties and focused on environmental problems like the green transition away from natural gas and a stronger national healthcare system. They also touched upon transparency and meritocracy in the state institutions and staff.[iv]

The election results showed that the incumbent New Democracy Party, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, won the elections with 40% of the votes and secured 146 seats in the Hellenic Parliament. On the other hand, left wing Syriza came second, took 20% of the votes, and gained 71 seats. PASOK gained 41 seats with 11% of the votes. As a relatively minor parties of the parliament, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) entered parliament with a 7% vote rate and got 26 seats; Greek Solution earned 4% of the vote and 16 seats.[v] Although some polls have predicted these results, the voting rates of New Democracy and Syriza were surprising. New Democracy, under Mitsotakis’s leadership, has unexpectedly increased its voter rates and become a dominant party in this election. On the other hand, it created major disappointment for SYRIZA. Former prime minister and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said, "The games have both wins and losses. The election result is extremely negative for Syriza,'' on election night.[vi] The election's aftermath caused a clash among the opposition actors. Tsipras blamed other political actors from opposition. On the other hand, Yannis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister and leader of left wing MERA25 Party, has blamed SYRIZA for the election results and argued that “with this election the Greece’s Orbanization-Erdoganization process has been completed.”[vii] Apart from Varoufakis’s claim, there is slightly growing concern about illiberal democratic implications in Greece.[viii] the status of media freedom, civil liberties, and corruption issues that are challenging liberal democracy in the recent conjuncture.[ix] Besides, Freedom House’s 2022 Country Report on Greece shows that corruption, discrimination against immigrant & minority groups, and poor conditions for irregular migrants-asylum seekers have been highlighted as essential problems in Greece’s democracy and freedom index.[x] However, these concerns are perceived as illiberal tendencies by a small group. It is hard to say that Greece has remarkable marks of antidemocratic rule. Apart from these illiberalism critics, some political analysts evaluate the election results as a victory of positive rhetoric. Athene-based economist and political analyst Nick Malkoutzis has argued that “While ND and its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis developed a positive narrative, Syriza focused “only on the negative, rather than being constructive about the country’s future direction.”[xi] Parallel to him, Ioannis Grigoriadis, a fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) in Athens, has highlighted New Democracy’s successful election campaign and Syriza’s failure to adapt to changing social and economic conditions of a post-crisis Greece.

Although New Democracy secured a major part of the votes, due to Greece’s electoral system, proportional representation,[xii] it fell short of the electoral threshold to form a single-party government.[xiii] Party leader Mitsotakis did not prefer a coalition option for the new term. Thus, while delivering his victory speech, he stated that “Greece needs a government that believes in reforms, and this cannot happen with fragile government; New Democracy has the approval of the citizens to govern independently and strongly.” According to Greece's constitution, the first three parties are awarded up to three days each to try and form a government before parliament is dissolved and a new election is called. Under these conditions, since ND could not achieve a sufficient majority to form a government and no party wanted to form a coalition, Greece’s voters will go to the second election to determine the final results for the next term on June 25.[xiv] Until June 25, the country will be in the pre-election period and a countdown for the election day.[xv]


[i] Bureau, Athens, and Gct. “Greece Elections 2023 - Nearly 80% of Eligible Diaspora Voters Turned out at the Polls.” Greek City Times, 21 May 2023,

[ii] Grobe, Stefan. “Greek Elections: For Brussels, Rule of Law Woes Ousted Economic Ones.” Euronews, 19 May 2023,

[iii] Stamouli, Nektaria. “Greek Parliament Votes to Ban Extreme-Right Party from Elections.” POLITICO, 11 Apr. 2023,

[iv] Federico, Ilaria. “What You Need to Know about the Greek Elections.” Euronews, 18 May 2023,

[v] “IFES Election Guide: Elections: Greece Parliament 2023.” IFES Election Guide | Elections: Greece Parliament 2023, Accessed 2 June 2023.

[vi] Dougall, David Mac. “Greece General Election: Five Things We Learned from Sunday’s Vote.” Euronews, 22 May 2023,

[vii] Newsroom. “Greece’s ‘erdoganization’ Now Complete, Says Varoufakis.” eKathimerini.Com, 22 May 2023,

[viii] Matthaios Tsimitakis, Mihalis Panayiotakis, et al. “Illiberal Conservatism Comes to Greece.” Jacobin, Accessed 2 June 2023.

[ix] “Greece: Country Profile.” Freedom House, Accessed 2 June 2023.

[x] “Greece: Freedom in the World 2022 Country Report.” Freedom House, Accessed 2 June 2023.

[xi] “Greek Ruling Party’s Positive Agenda Defeated Opposition’s Negative Narrative: Analysts.” Anadolu Ajansı, Accessed 2 June 2023.

[xii] Gatopoulos, Derek. “Greece Heads to New Election after Conservatives Fail to Gain a Majority despite Landslide Win.” PBS, 23 May 2023,

[xiii] Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou. “Greece’s Ruling Conservatives Win Vote but Fall Short of Majority.” Reuters, 22 May 2023,

[xiv] Stamouli, Nektaria. “Greece Heads to the Polls Again on June 25.” POLITICO, 29 May 2023,

[xv] “Greece Officially in Pre-Elections Period until June 25.” Keep Talking Greece, 29 May 2023,