Greek elections: Mitsotakis’ ND leads opinion polls. Why?

What are the main reasons that ND is pretty clearly leading in the opinion polls? An early elections take place on July, 7. Read few comments.

Leader of New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Credit:

Nikolaos ZahariadisProfessor of International Studies, Rhodes College

The reason why ND is ahead in the polls has to do as much with the downfall of Syriza as much as it has to do with ND leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

First, citizens feel betrayed by Syriza. When the party came to power, Tsipras promised significant reforms, elimination of austerity, and less corruption. Instead Greece experienced more of all of this plus an additional set of bailout measures. Syriza’ actual policies hardly differed from those of its predecessors while taxation went up dramatically. None of this would have mattered much if Syriza could convince that there would be an end to the misery. Instead, it disappointed in two main respects.First, Syriza showed complete inability and lack of compassion when it came to handling the catastrophic fires last summer. Second, it signed international treaties despite significant public outcry, i.e., the agreement over Macedonia. In short, supporters feel betrayed without tangible improvements in their lives. Plus Syriza used and practiced divisive tactics that alienated many but its core supporters. Moreover, it alienated some of its core voters but seeking to broaden its appeal and become more “social democratic” which its core voters are not.

Second, Mitsotakis has been able to convince citizens he has a way out. He appears more credible and less cynical despite the baggage his family name carries. I don’t think people are convinced that ND has the answer, many of the people who may be coming to power in fact are the same as before. But they are really against Syriza and its policies.

Now why ND and not other parties? It is because Syriza swallowed smaller parties (Potami and ANEL), presenting itself to voters as the main leftist platform. It facilitated the “turn” to ND if one were disillusioned with Syriza. There is no one else left in the mainstream other than Kinal, many of whose voters and leadership Syriza sought to poach.

Theofanis ExadaktylosSenior Lecturer in European Politics, Department of Politics, University of Surrey

A number of reasons can be identified here that mainly have to do with the disappointment of the electorate on the promises of SYRIZA. At the same time, there have been a few unfortunate moments for the government, namely the fire near Athens last year that cost about 100 people their lives due to the inability of the government to act in an organised manner; the collapse of the junior coalition partner ANEL; the agreement on the name of North Macedonia which does not find many Greeks accepting; the deterioration of public services including health and education; the further austerity cuts in pensions; and some scandals around the political personnel surrounding the prime minister’s office and some ministries.

Hence, there are still a good number of voters supporting SYRIZA in light of the absence of a center-left pole. What is interesting is that voters who would traditionally vote for PASOK but went to SYRIZA are now turning to New Democracy as a way of protesting against SYRIZA policies.

It seems that the dangerous games with the country’s euro membership, the constant blame-shifting to Europe, but also the complete disregard for the political system have cost SYRIZA a larger support. ND comes in with a momentum from the European Parliament elections and SYRIZA is trying to minimise its losses, but the difference between the two parties is quite large to be overturned despite SYRIZA’s efforts with last-minute measures and benefits towards certain segments of the population.

Roman GerodimosAssociate Professor of Global Current Affairs, Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University

ND’s lead was built up over time and can be attributed to two main factors:

On the one hand, from the moment the (then new) leader of ND, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was elected in January 2016, the contrast with Alexis Tsipras became apparent. Mitsotakis is a well-educated, professionally successfully and highly intelligent politician who is well respected by a broad demographic. While a lot of people still consider ND part of the old corrupt political system, Mitsotakis has spent three years renewing the party and parliamentary candidates, putting together a strong team of expert advisors and reaching out to both centre-left and centre-right demographics (ND came first amongst 18-35s in the European Parliament elections, which is quite a turn-around from the 2015 elections when Syriza and the Golden Dawn dominated the youth vote). ND’s lead is very much his personal achievement.

On the other hand, Tsipras’ weaknesses in terms of governance showed up throughout the last three to four years, esp. with regard to civil protection. Major disasters such as the Mati fires (in which more than 100 people were killed), a flood and an oil spill were mismanaged and the government appeared to be completely disorganised. Tsipras failed to put in place a team of respected ministers and advisors, continuing to operate with a small cabal of trusted but inexperienced aides. While the economy has been recovering, many people – especially in northern Greece – angrily oppose the agreement with Northern Macedonia and Mitsotakis managed to tread a very thin line between his party’s right wing (which opposes any compromise) and his more centrist supporters (who actually didn’t mind the deal).

Angelos Chryssogelos, Fulbright-Schuman Scholar, Johns Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

The reason ND is leading is both the economy and general quality of life. People feel that SYRIZA betrayed them and ND has managed to put forward a very moderate program based on better state governance and attracting foreign investments. People are also disappointed with SYRIZA’s foreign policies, esp. the Macedonia deal.

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