The Greek people will vote in runoff elections on June 25 for the person who will govern, not who will lead the opposition, New Democracy (ND) leader and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview to Alpha TV on Wednesday.
Speaking from his office in Maximos Mansion a day before a caretaker government takes over, Mitsotakis said the winners in the first round of elections on May 21 included, besides ND, Greek society and political dialog. “What lost was toxicity, vulgarity. It became obvious that real society is elsewhere than in the toxic microcosm of the social network media,” he said. “A great cycle of anger and rage that opened in 2010 has ended. We can be optimistic about the future. I wish and hope that our opponents also learned their lessons,” he added.
Asked to comment on the opposition, he expressed the hope that parties speak more about party programs and people’s real problems ahead of the runoff on June 25. “We will vote for whoever will become a government, not who will become the opposition. What happens in the opposition is the business of SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance and PASOK-KINAL. I would like to express the hope that during this electoral period we speak more about policies, about the real problems citizens face. Every citizen voting for ND signs a contract of responsibility with me,” Mitsotakis noted, adding that the greater the margin of victory in the polls, the heavier the responsibility he feels.
In terms of the opposition parties, he noted that “Syriza failed as main opposition and certainly did not participate in efforts for wider agreements. Can Pasok-Kinal play that role? I don’t know. It continues to give me the impression it wants to return to the glory of the 80s, but we are in 2023. Syriza lost 12 percentage points, while PASOK gained 2 – you cannot call this a triumph.” Mitsotakis said he and ND party members would focus on gaining a high enough percentage to become an independent government.
Speaking of voting returns, the ND leader also spoke of how much it meant to him that Crete, his home island, gave ND the majority vote, and spoke of “the great success ND had in working-class neighborhoods of Athens such as in Perama. People there voted for their jobs, not with party blinders on. This says a lot about the social impact of our policies.”
Commenting on the deadly train collision at Tempi, he said that Kostas Karamanlis assumed his political responsibility and resigned, and elections would not whitewash the issue. As with the surveillance issue, Mitsotakis said that mistakes were made and efforts made to correct them. The public took account of them before voting as well, he said, and still voted for ND.
Mitsotakis also spoke about Greek-Turkish relations and said he was not worried about elections in the neighboring country. However, despite improved relations, basic territorial claims by Turkiye have not changed. “No Greek prime minister – and certainly not I – will discuss issues of demilitarizing the islands, especially more so issues related to the East Aegean islands’ sovereignty. These are beyond discussion,” he said, while he added that if he becomes prime minister again, he will seek to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit in mid-July, provided the latter wins the runoff election on May 28.