New Democracy leader constitutes cabinet of established legislators, technocrats and reformers to lead firstly post-bailout government
It’s been barely a week but Greece’s new “ministers “, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has hit the ground running. Assuming power on Monday, the New Democracy leader announced parliament would not be going into recess for the summer: there was no time to waste, and invoices had to be drafted.
By Wednesday, as cabinet ministers of established politicians, technocrats and ex-socialist reformers convened for the first time, the philosophy of his centre-right government became clearer still: diplomats would not only set targets, they’d be monitored very. Placed before them were blue-blooded folders containing benchmark purposes. As in any good business, progress reports would have to be kept.
In an period where illusion is everything, Mitsotakis, a former banker, has moved out of his style to set a brand-new color after four-and-a-half years of often rollercoaster ruler under his leftwing predecessor Alexis Tsipras.
Police vans and impediments- which had come to represent the Tsipras government’s fear of declaration- have been removed from the road approaching the prime minister’s office.
For numerous Greeks the new style are not only symbolic. Their firstly post-bailout government is viewed as the beginning of a brand-new epoch; the sweep of a mental doorstep after a decade of austerity-driven depression, bailouts, radical splinter groups and near insolvency on the frontline of Europe’s indebtednes crisis.
” What we are seeing is a fresh generation of politician, Harvard-educated, result-oriented and with a more technocratic approach coming to the fore ,” Pantelis Kapsis, a prominent political correspondent, says of Mitsotakis.
” It’s almost as if he wants to run Greece as a business project, at possible risks of offending some of the old guard in his own party .”
Cronyism, nepotism, political patronage and profligate expend have all been blamed for the nation’s inexorable slip towards financial downfall. Aware of his own party’s role in that drama- New Democracy and the social-democratic Pasok party alternated in ability for decades- one of Mitsotakis’s first ordinances this week was to ban the appointment by government officials of relatives to uprights, a rule, he said, he would be the first be applied to. Mitsotakis himself is the son another former prime minister and towering representation of the working party, Konstantinos.
As with various Greek presidents, the 51 -year-old Kyriakos is part of a potent political empire. But his political ascending was not preordained. The prospect that he would one day produce New Democracy, one of Europe’s most socially conservative parties, to a triumph succes seemed implausible exclusively a few years ago.
Although raised in the shadow of his father and his older sister, Dora, who would go on to become mayor of Athens and of ministers for foreign affairs, politics was not his first summon. Instead, the younger Mitsotakis continued his studies in the US before venturing into the world of finance.
When a enterprise with Chase Investment bank summon, he moved to London. It was here that he lived for years with his banker spouse Mareva Grabowski- hour that friends credit with shaping panoramas considerably more progressive than most in New Democracy.
It was not until 2004, several years after his return to Athens, that the then father-of-three became an MP but his ascendancy to the party’s helm was unexpected. Throwing his hat into the ring for the leadership race in 2015, Mitsotakis was considered a rank outsider, a centrist whose liberal financial sentiments sounded with neither nationalists nor populists in its ranks.
” Initially his poll ratings weren’t high-pitched at all; he was held in suspicion by MPs ,” said Theodore Pelagidis, a professor of economics at Piraeus University who admonished him at the time.” Not more than three or four[ out of 75] backed him. He simply prevailed because he was persistent, systematic and workaholic- excellences he has since brought to the party .”
As soon as “hes taking” over, New Democracy’s headquarters were moved from a building on a center Athens boulevard that expenditure EUR9 8,000( PS88, 000) in rent per month to propositions in a gritty neighborhood that rate 9,800 euro monthly. In string with the politician’s green senses, the new agencies were turned into an eco-friendly behemoth, where sea saving and recycling has become the norm.
Aides say he will be using same techniques to try and transform Greece, a number of countries that despite being brought to the brink of expulsion from the euro area, and still closely watched by foreign creditors almost a year after exiting its third bailout, remains deep resistant to change.
” His doctrine is one of progressive liberalism. He believes in the welfare state, universal health care for all, and in high quality public services but also in the invention of the market economy ,” said Pavlos Eleftheriadis, professor of public law at the University of Oxford who extended as a candidate for the party in May’s European parliament elections.” His thinking and his predispositions belong more to the centre than the privilege. He is willing to experiment, innovate, take risks .”
Eleftheriadis, who helped procured the centrist Potami party and describes himself as belonging to the centre left, says New Democracy would not normally has become a natural dwelling. But, like others, he was won over by Mitsotakis’s anti-populist posture and reformist, pro-European, internationalist policies.
He said no president comes to the job as well prepared. While in opposition Mitsotakis had concentrated on planning onward, preparing the party’s manifesto, singling out foreign-based academics and business people who, when the time, could fill government posts.
” He’s a tactical intellectual … what he’s pulled off in his government has been a very difficult balance ,” added Eleftheriadis.” He’s had to desegregate installed politicians, with wide popular petition, with unknown technocrats whose expertise will allow them to be more effective and more focused on specific policy.
But Mitsotakis also has his adversaries. His new administration has been criticised for the under-representation of women- they harbour merely five ranks out of a total of 51.
Asked about this, Mitsotakis claimed there weren’t many women ” interested in stepping into politics “ and said he had approached wives but they “were much more hesitant” to take up cabinet posts than soldiers. He conceded that it was a” definite domain of improvement” for his government and said he hoped to appoint more when he had his first cabinet reshuffle.
His untrammelled belief in the private sector organizations whose investors, he hopes, will help create jobs and reduce record rates of unemployment, has triggered fears that the country’s public practicalities and natural resources will be sold off at the very highest bidder.
Few have forgotten how as administrative reform pastor he dismissed around 5,000 parties, nearly overnight, from jobs in the public sector at the behest of lenders obstructing Athens afloat. There have also been charges of some New Democracy MPs accommodating stridently antisemitic, homophobic panoramas , despite Mitsotakis having endorsed legislation in favour of same-sex civil unions.
” He’s very neoliberal and he’s been a hostage of rightwing patriots in New Democracy over issues like Prespes ,” said the leftist writer Dimitris Psarras, referring to the historic accord Tsipras closed terminating the decades-long name row over Macedonia, Greece’s northern neighbour , now called the Republic of North Macedonia.
” He took a very tough stance on that even though his own viewpoints previously had been much more moderate. It was cynical and hypocritical. In my view he is weak. A fortune of what he does is motivated by a desire to prove he is as good as his sister and father, both really big political identities .”
Promises of levy reduction- a key vote drawer- could also prove challenging. Within hours of presupposing power, the EU made clear that it would not be tolerating any fiscal derailments. Greece, it said, would have to keep to its commitment of producing budget surpluses of 3.5%, even if Mitsotakis has said his endgame is to renegotiate such straightjacket fiscal targets.
And although out, at 45, Tsipras is by no means down. Instead his Syriza party has called its ability to pick up 31.5% of the vote, despite being the one forced to apply tough austerity measures , nothing short of a succes. Once the new government starts implementing unpopular bars opposition is likely to be formidable.
” What Mitsotakis has done is risky. Politics is all about compromise and technocrats don’t ever “know what youre talking about” to do that ,” said Kapsis.” When reforms come up against resistance he will almost certainly run into trouble with his own MPs. Right now, we’re in the honeymoon age but miracles in politics never last .”