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Ruling Conservatives Suffer Defeats in Greece’s Local Elections

conservatives Greece local elections
Socialist-backed academic Haris Doukas beat incumbent Kostas Bakoyannis to become the new mayor of Athens, as the ruling conservatives suffered defeats in Greece’s most recent local elections. Credit: AMNA

The ruling conservative party in Greece suffered unexpected defeats in the second round of local elections, both regional and municipal, held on Sunday.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy (ND) party candidates lost in Athens and Thessaloniki and five of the six regional contests.

“It was not an especially good night for New Democracy,” Mitsotakis acknowledged on Sunday night. The Premier also noted that the particularly high voter abstention “should concern all of us” in the runoffs, which involved a total of six regions and eighty-four cities.

The biggest upset was in the municipal elections in Athens where a socialist-backed academic Haris Doukas beat incumbent Kostas Bakoyannis with nearly 56 percent of the vote.

Bakoyannis had scored over 41 percent in the first round, a little short of the 43 percent threshold required for an outright victory, to Doukas’ 14 percent. Bakoyannis is Mitsotakis’ nephew. His mother, Dora Bakoyannis, a New Democracy lawmaker and former minister, was mayor of Athens from 2003 to 2007.

Sunday’s turnout in Athens was even lower than in the first round: just 26.7 percent of eligible voters showed up compared to last Sunday’s 32.3 percent.

Local elections the “first great defeat” for conservatives in Greece

Athenians “believed the impossible” and made his win over incumbent mayor Kostas Bakoyannis come true against all odds, newly elected Mayor of Athens Haris Doukas said.

He spoke of “a beautiful voyage that now begins” and added that “we have a great opportunity to turn what we spoke about into action. We shall try very hard to succeed in that.”

Calling the overturn of Kostas Bakoyannis in Athens by Haris Doukas “the victory of a local government that serves the citizen,” the leader of the socialist party PASOK Nikos Androulakis blasted ND and Mitsotakis for “arrogance, immodesty, and clientelist practices,” saying the results were the PM’s “first great defeat.”

conservatives Greece local elections
Stelios Angeloudis won the mayoral race in Thessaloniki. Credit: AMNA

In the city of Thessaloniki, socialist Stelios Angeloudis, who was not his party’s official candidate, because of fighting among local party officials, easily defeated incumbent and ND-supported Konstantinos Zervas, 67 to 33 percent.

“I want to thank all Thessaloniki residents, both those who honored us by their votes, but also those who chose differently. Also those who chose not to vote. It is now our responsibility to win their trust again through our work,” Angeloudis said.

Another significant result was the region of Thessaly, where ND-backed incumbent governor, Kostas Agorastos, lost 40 to 60 percent to Dimitris Kouretas, backed by both PASOK and left-wing Syriza parties.

Before the deadly floods that hit the region in September, Agorastos was considered a favorite for a fourth consecutive term.

Besides Thessaly, New Democracy lost four other regional contests to conservative dissidents, only one of whom was the incumbent. The ruling party’s sole victory Sunday came in the Peloponnese.

Kostas Peletidis was elected to a third term as mayor of Patras by 56.7 percent. Peletidis, who is supported by the Communist Party, said that Patras residents “defended their victories, the future of our children, and our city.”

Commenting on the results, the leader of main opposition SYRIZA, Stefanos Kasselakis, said they represented the “first big crack in the Mitsotakis regime.”

Abstention from voting took the lead in the second round of local government elections, sending a message of distrust towards local leaders. It also signified the indifference of a large portion of citizens to the results.

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