Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (L) talks with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou during a meeting to receive mandate to form a government in Athens, Greece, 22 May 2023. EFE/EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

Mitsotakis handed mandate to form gov’t

Athens, May 22 (EFE).- Greek president Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Monday handed conservative prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis an official mandate to form a new government after his ruling New Democracy (ND) party emerged as the clear winners of general elections over the weekend.

The PM met with Sakellaropoulou at the presidential headquarters at noon and received the mandate to negotiate with other parties since Mitsotakis did not get the necessary majority for his party to govern alone.

Mitsotakis is likely to reject the assignment to strike a deal with the opposition, which would force a second vote that could take place on June 25.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C) shakes hands with Greek President Katerina Sakelaropoulou (R) during a meeting to receive mandate to form a government in Athens, Greece, 22 May 2023.EFE/EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS

The three left-wing opposition parties combined did not win the necessary number of seats to secure a majority either.

In Sunday’s elections, ND took 41% of the votes compared to 20% for the left-leaning Syriza party of former prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

Despite ND taking over double the number of votes than the opposition, Greece’s proportional representation system in place on Sunday’s elections means Mitsotakis took 146 seats of the 300-strong parliament, just five short of a majority.

If there is a second ballot in June or early July, though, the older system would be used which grants the winning party a bonus of up to 50 seats, meaning ND would be able to govern comfortably alone.

According to Greek law, if Mitsotakis returns the presidential mandate on Monday afternoon, Sakelaropulu would then hand over the mandate to Tsipras as the leader of the second most-voted party.

If he does not achieve the goal of forming a government, the task would be transferred to Nikos Andrulakis, head of Socialist Pasok which came in third with 11% of votes.

Should Andrulakis also fail to form a governing majority, the president could make one last-ditch attempt by summoning the leaders of all political parties or she could immediately order the dissolution of Parliament, call new elections and name an interim government that will lead the country until the ballot. EFE