Mitsotakis sworn in as Greek PM, promises ‘big changes’

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (left) takes the oath during a swearing in ceremony at the Presidential palace, in Athens, Greece,  June 26, 2023.  (PHOTO / AP)

ATHENS – Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised to rebuild Greece's credit rating, create jobs, raise wages and boost state revenues after he was sworn in for a second term as prime minister on Monday following a resounding election win.

His center-right New Democracy party got 158 seats in the 300-seat parliament in the repeat election on Sunday, well ahead of the 48 secured by leftist Syriza which ran Greece from 2015-2019 at the height of the decade-long economic crisis.

"I have committed that in this second term we will realize the big changes that the country so much needs," Mitsotakis told President Katerina Sakellaropoulou after receiving an official mandate to form a government.

The 55-year-old former banker and scion of a powerful political family was prime minister from 2019 until stepping down in favor of a caretaker premier following an inconclusive May 21 vote.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis has promised to push ahead with reforms to rebuild the credit rating after the debt crisis, boost revenue from the vital tourist industry and increase wages to near the European Union average

He has promised to push ahead with reforms to rebuild the credit rating after the debt crisis, boost revenue from the vital tourist industry and increase wages to near the European Union average.

Ratings agency Moody's Senior Vice-President Steffen Dyck said New Democracy's victory was credit-positive. A second four-year term under Mitsotakis "will ensure continuity in fiscal and economic policies. In particular, continued focus on improving the business environment and banking sector health," he said.

He forecast Greece "will post one of the largest debt reductions globally," with its general government debt burden declining to less than 150 percent of GDP by 2025, from 171.3 percent at the end of 2022.

A government spokesman announced the new cabinet at 1400 GMT.

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Mitsotakis appointed Kostis Hatzidakis as his finance minister.

Hatzidakis, a 58-year-old soft-spoken politician and reformist according to political analysts, is New Democracy's vice-president. He served as labor and energy minister in the former government, overseeing the restructuring of Greece's biggest power utility PPC, which had been struggling with overdue bills, the legacy of the debt crisis.

Nikos Dendias, foreign minister in the previous administration, was appointed defense minister. The foreign ministry portfolio went to George Gerapetritis, a senior aide to Mitsotakis who was state minister and took over the transport ministry after a deadly train crash in February.

The cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday.

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While the COVID-19 pandemic and the rail crash exposed shortcomings in health and public transport systems, soaring prices and economic hardship have more recently topped voters' concerns.

Sunday's vote saw a heavy defeat for Alexis Tsipras's Syriza party, which lost more than 30 lawmakers. "Mitsotakis's absolute dominance, with no opponent," Greek newspaper Ta Nea wrote on its front page.

Tsipras said Syriza would work hard for a come-back and his party would decide on his own future.

The vote also saw three fringe right-wing and nationalist parties, including the anti-immigrant 'Spartans', enter parliament with a combined 34 seats.