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Kyriakos Mitsotakis

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Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης
Mitsotakis in 2021
Prime Minister of Greece
Assumed office
26 June 2023
PresidentKaterina Sakellaropoulou
Preceded byIoannis Sarmas
In office
8 July 2019 – 24 May 2023
PresidentProkopis Pavlopoulos
Katerina Sakellaropoulou
DeputyPanagiotis Pikrammenos
Preceded byAlexis Tsipras
Succeeded byIoannis Sarmas
Leader of the Opposition
In office
10 January 2016 – 8 July 2019
Prime MinisterAlexis Tsipras
Preceded byIoannis Plakiotakis
Succeeded byAlexis Tsipras
President of New Democracy
Assumed office
10 January 2016
Vice PresidentAdonis Georgiadis
Kostis Hatzidakis
Preceded byIoannis Plakiotakis
Minister of Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance
In office
25 June 2013 – 27 January 2015
Prime MinisterAntonis Samaras
Preceded byAntonis Manitakis
Succeeded byNikos Voutsis
Member of the Hellenic Parliament
Assumed office
7 March 2004
ConstituencyThessaloniki A (2023–present)
Athens B2 (2019–2023)
Athens B (2004–2019)
Personal details
Born (1968-03-04) 4 March 1968 (age 56)
Athens, Greece
Political partyNew Democracy
SpouseMareva Grabowski
Children3
Parent
RelativesDora Bakoyannis (sister)
EducationAthens College
Alma materHarvard University (BA, MBA)
Stanford University (MA)
Awards
Signature

Kyriakos Mitsotakis (Greek: Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης, Kyriákos Mitsotákis [ciɾˈʝakos mit͡soˈtacis]; born 4 March 1968) is a Greek politician currently serving as the prime minister of Greece since July 2019, except for a month between May and June 2023. Mitsotakis has been president of the New Democracy party since 2016. He is generally associated with the centre-right, espousing economically liberal and socially liberal policies.

Mitsotakis previously was Leader of the Opposition from 2016 to 2019, and Minister of Administrative Reform from 2013 to 2015. He is the son of the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who was Prime Minister of Greece from 1990 to 1993. He was first elected to the Hellenic Parliament for the Athens B constituency in 2004. After New Democracy suffered two election defeats in 2015, he was elected the party's leader in January 2016. Three years later, he led his party to a majority in the 2019 Greek legislative election.

Following the May 2023 Greek legislative election in which no party won a majority and no coalition government was formed by any of the parties eligible to do so, Mitsotakis called for another snap election in June. On 24 May 2023, as required by Greece's constitution, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou appointed Ioannis Sarmas to be the caretaker prime minister for the interim period.[1] One month later he once again led his party to a majority in the June 2023 Greek legislative election and was sworn in as prime minister having received the order to form a government from the President.[2][3][4] On 26 June 2023, Mitsotakis won a second term as prime minister after winning the June 2023 Greek legislative election.[5]

During his term as prime minister, Mitsotakis has received both praise and criticism for his governance, economic measures,[6] and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece.[7][8] However, academics and government advisors have pointed out Greece's failures during the pandemic in addressing healthcare system shortcomings, which have led to excess deaths.[9][10] He has been credited with the digital transformation of the country's public administration,[11] and has been commended for furthering LGBT rights in Greece through the legalization of same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption.[12][13] He has also been remarked for his management of the Greek economy, with Greece being named the Top Economic Performer for 2022 by The Economist.[14][15][16] He has also received criticism for his handling of migration and the numbers of pushbacks,[17][18][19][20] which his government has denied despite mounting evidence.[21] Additionally, Mitsotakis has been criticised for heightened corruption during his term,[22][23] as well as a deterioration of freedom of the press in Greece.[24][25][26] His term was impacted by the 2022 wiretapping scandal,[27] the Tempi Train crash,[28] and the wildfires in 2021 and 2023.[29][30][31]

On 7 February 2024 the European Parliament approved a resolution addressing concerns over the state of the rule of law in Greece.[32][33] The resolution highlighted various issues, including alleged harassment of journalists, privacy violations, wiretapping of political opponents, excessive use of police force, conflicts of interest, corruption, smear campaigns against civil society, and reported incidents of pushbacks of migrants.[34][35]

Early life and education[edit]

Kyriakos Mitsotakis was born in Athens on 4 March 1968, the son of Marika (née Giannoukou) and former Greek prime minister and New Democracy president Konstantinos Mitsotakis. At the time of his birth, his family had been placed under house arrest by the Greek military junta that had declared his father persona non grata and imprisoned him on the night of the coup.[36] In 1968, when he was six months old, the family escaped to Turkey with the help of Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil. After a while, they moved from Turkey to Paris and waited until 1974 to return to Greece after democracy had been restored.[37] Mitsotakis controversially described the first six months of his life as political imprisonment.[38][23]

In 1986, Mitsotakis graduated from Athens College. From 1986 to 1990, he attended Harvard University and earned a bachelor's degree in social studies, receiving the Hoopes Prize. Later, his senior thesis was published as a book titled The Pitfalls of Foreign Policy, which received mixed reviews.[39][40] From 1992 to 1993, he attended Stanford University, earning a Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy. From 1993 to 1995, he attended Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA.[41]

Professional career[edit]

From 1990 to 1991 Kyriakos Mitsotakis worked as a financial analyst at the corporate finance division of Chase Bank in London. From 1991 to 1992, Mitsotakis returned to Greece and joined the Hellenic Army to fulfil his mandatory national service obligations. From 1995 to 1997, and following the completion of his post-graduate studies, he was employed by the consultancy McKinsey & Company in London, focusing primarily on the telecommunications and financial services industries. From 1997 to 1999 he worked for Alpha Ventures, a private equity subsidiary of Alpha Bank, as a senior investment officer, executing venture capital and private equity transactions. In 1999 he founded NBG Venture Capital, the private equity and venture capital subsidiary of the National Bank of Greece, and acted as its CEO, managing its portfolio and executing transactions in Greece and the Balkans, until April 2003, when he resigned to pursue a career in politics.[41]

In January 2003, he was nominated by the World Economic Forum as a global leader of tomorrow.[42]

Political career[edit]

During the 2000 legislative election, Mitsotakis worked for New Democracy's national campaign. In the 2004 legislative election, Mitsotakis ran in the Athens B constituency, receiving more votes than any other New Democracy candidate in the country and was elected to the Hellenic Parliament.[citation needed]

Mitsotakis is honorary president of Konstantinos K. Mitsotakis Foundation, aiming at promoting the life and works of Konstantinos Mitsotakis and at reporting the modern political history of Greece.[citation needed]

On 24 June 2013, Mitsotakis was appointed as the Minister of Administrative Reform and e-Governance in Antonis Samaras' cabinet, succeeding Antonis Manitakis. He was in this position until January 2015. During this time, he pursued comprehensive national reforms by implementing a functional reorganization of institutions, structures and processes. He steadfastly supported the drastic downsizing of the Public Sector and the structural reform of the tax administration.

In 2015, Mitsotakis was a parliamentary representative for New Democracy, representing the President of the party in Parliament, as well as the body of the party's Representatives. He was charged with expressing the positions of his party during Parliamentary procedures and discourse, as well as ensuring the proper function of Parliament through a process of checks and balances. In March 2015, he claimed that then-Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis was undermining the Greek negotiations over the third bailout programme, saying: "Every time he opens his mouth, he creates a problem for the country's negotiating position."[43]

Mitsotakis and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in 2016

Mitsotakis was the first of four New Democracy members to announce their candidacy in the leadership election, declared following the resignation of Antonis Samaras as party leader and the failure of New Democracy in the September 2015 snap election.[44] Amongst the other contestants was then-interim leader and former Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Vangelis Meimarakis. According to the Financial Times, Mitsotakis was "billed as an outsider in the leadership race" due to the party establishment's support of Meimarakis' candidacy.[45] Following the first round of voting with no clear winner, Mitsotakis came second, 11% behind Meimarakis.[45]

Mitsotakis and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in 2017

On 10 January 2016, Mitsotakis was elected president of the New Democracy political party succeeding Ioannis Plakiotakis (transitional president) with almost 4% difference from opponent Vangelis Meimarakis. A week following Mitsotakis' election as leader, two opinion polls were published that put New Democracy ahead of Syriza for the first time in a year.[46]

His party won 33% of the votes in the European elections in 2019.[47] He managed to win back votes from the Golden Dawn Party.[48] Following the election results, the Hellenic Parliament was dissolved and a snap election was called.[49]

Scandals & Human Rights[edit]

Press freedom[edit]

Under Mitsotakis, Greece has declined in press freedom. Violence against journalists has increased,[50] resulting to a deterioration of the Greek freedom of the press.[24][25][26] Mitsotakis' government has directed funds towards media platforms that produce favorable coverage, whilst also allocating more than €20 million to state-friendly media at the beginning of the pandemic.[24] Furthermore, in November 2021, the government enacted a law to criminalize the dissemination of "fake news". This legislation empowers authorities to imprison individuals for up to five years if they spread purportedly false information that is deemed capable of causing concern or fear to the public or undermining public confidence in the national economy, the country's defense capacity, or public health.[51][52] Mitsotakis has acknowledged that the law may have been a mistake, but the law has not been reversed.[24]

Migration[edit]

Mitsotakis adopted a hardline stance on the European Migrant Crisis by resorting to pushbacks of thousands of migrants in an attempt to prevent their entry into Greece, which his government has denied.[53][54][55] He received praise from the European Union for his handling of the crisis and received economic support of €700m.[56]

Wiretapping Scandal[edit]

In July 2022, the leader of the political party PASOK, Nikos Androulakis, revealed that there was an attempt of bugging his phone with the spyware program "Predator". In a closed-door parliamentary hearing that was called by Androulakis, the chief of Greek Intelligence Service, P. Kontoleon, admitted that his service had spied Greek journalist Thanassis Koukakis, who has also complained about being targeted by "Predator".[57] After the publication of an investigation by Efsyn and Reporters United that Grigoris Dimitriadis, Mitsotakis's nephew and general secretary, had connections with Felix Bitsios, the owner of the company that markets the "Predator", Dimitriadis submitted his resignation.[58] Shortly after, the chief of Greek Intelligence Service, Panagiotis Kontoleon, also stepped down over an allegation that his service had tapped Androulakis's phone.[57] Mitsotakis himself has actively worked to block any investigation on the wiretapping scandal from concluding.[59][60] The scandal has garnered extensive attention in the international media due to the fact that a number of the actions taken subsequent to the revelations were contentious and seemed to suggest an attempt to conceal the truth.[61][62][63] In January 2023, despite calls from the opposition to hold the government accountable for its actions and investigate the scandal further, Mitsotakis' administration successfully withstood a no-confidence vote.[64]

Train collision[edit]

On 28 February 2023, a freight train and a passenger train traveling in opposite directions between Athens and Thessaloniki were inadvertently routed on the same track; 57 people were killed in the head-on collision near Tempi. Amid rising anger and nationwide protests, Mitsotakis offered "a public apology on behalf of those who ruled the country over the years", took responsibility for the disaster and vowed to fix the long-neglected rail system.[65][66] He said the government would invest more than 270 million Euros to hire more staff and to install digital control systems by August.[67]

Mandatory COVID-19 measures and vaccinations[edit]

In December 2020, Mitsotakis was criticized after a photo of him surfaced on social media, in which he posed with five other people while not wearing a mask, during a time when Greece had a nationwide lockdown and mask-wearing was mandatory both indoors and outdoors.[68][69] On 6 February 2021 Mitsotakis visited the island of Icaria to inspect the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations in the area. During this visit, he attended a lunch organized by MP Christodoulos I. Stefanadis along with his entourage numbering up to 40 people. The incident was covered by both Greek and international media and Mitsotakis was heavily criticized for violating the existing COVID-19 containment measures.[70][71][72][73] Mitsotakis publicly apologized for the Icaria incident, saying this will never happen again and that "the image hurt the citizens".[74][75]

In May 2021, when the Mitsotakis government announced the country's opening for tourism on 14 May, movement control measures, such as the obligation to send an SMS at particular sites, were retained temporarily. Other measures still in place after the re-opening of tourism were the daily curfew, from 00:30, the obligatory use of face masks indoors and outdoors, the ban on music in cafes and restaurants, and the ban on the operation of indoor restaurants throughout May. Casinos were allowed to operate, with a specific sanitary protocol. In an interview on 27 May 2021, Mitsotakis did not give a clear answer as to when and if the above measures would be lifted in the summer. He referred to a roadmap for lifting the controls but did not elaborate. He also estimated that tourism in 2021 in Greece would be around 50% of the levels experienced in 2019.[76][77][78][79] Greece was awarded the "Global Champion Award for COVID-19 Crisis Management" by the World Travel and Tourism Council, which "commends" the Greek Government as "a global example for the safe opening of the tourism sector during the pandemic."[80][81] He was also credited for the vaccine pass which was later used in the majority of countries in the European Union.[6]

Prime Minister of Greece[edit]

First term (2019–2023)[edit]

Mitsotakis and Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, January 2020
Mitsotakis with President of Israel Isaac Herzog in December 2021
Mitsotakis with Prime Minister of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovačevski in February 2022

New Democracy was victorious in the 2019 legislative election, scoring 39.85% of votes and securing 158 seats in the Hellenic Parliament.

On 8 July 2019, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos accepted Tsipras' resignation and tasked Mitsotakis with forming a new government.[82] Mitsotakis was sworn in as prime minister the same day as well.[83][84] On 9 July, the ministers in his government were sworn in. Among his cabinet was Makis Voridis, a former member of the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally, who was met with a cold reception abroad and by the Jewish community in Greece. Israel announced that it would not cooperate with Voridis.[85]

From 2019 onwards, it is launching a wave of privatizations, including tourism infrastructure, coastal land, and state-owned shares in the gas and electricity companies and Athens airport. On the other hand, a tax reform aimed at making the country "a haven for billionaires and the wealthiest citizens", the Financial Times notes, is being implemented. The aim is to attract investment by offering low tax rates. A clause will protect the beneficiaries of this tax policy from possible policy changes by future governments.[86]

The "big growth bill", adopted in the summer of 2020, provides for the restriction of the right to strike and the abolition of collective agreements, which had already been suspended in 2012 at the request of the Troika and then reinstated by the Tsipras government. Migration policy has been tightened: the coverage of hospital care for destitute foreigners has been abolished and the period during which refugees who have been granted asylum can reside in public housing has been reduced from six months to one month.[87] On environmental issues, the government reformed legislation to facilitate oil exploration.[88]

Mitsotakis' government has been praised by some observers for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for its plans for spending a €31bn share of the EU's Recovery Plan and for its orderly vaccination roll-out. Additionally, the common COVID-19 certificate was credited to Mitsotakis, and his idea has been taken up at a European level.[89][90] Mitsotakis had criticized the initially slow pace of the EU's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and he had called for its acceleration.[91]

Measures were implemented from March to May 2020 and from November 2020 until May 2021, when their gradual lifting started. The controls included the introduction of various movement restrictions, suspension of the operation of retail, catering and entertainment businesses, as well as schools and churches.[92][93]

In August 2020, a reform of the labour law was adopted. It provides for the possibility of an employer to dismiss employees without having to give reasons for the decision or give prior notice to the persons concerned. The tax authorities' anti-fraud unit was abolished and its employees were integrated into the Ministry of Finance.[94]

Mitsotakis with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, May 2022.

There is a long-standing dispute between Turkey and Greece over natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Mitsotakis said that Turkey "remains stuck in the logic of using force and threats."[95] He told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that Greece is "contributing to NATO, we are an ally and have the expectation that when another NATO ally is behaving in a way that jeopardises our interests, NATO should not adopt this stance of equal distances and non-intervention in internal differences. It is deeply unfair to Greece."[96]

In July 2020, Mitsotakis awarded honorary Greek citizenship to American actor Tom Hanks and his wife, American actress Rita Wilson, the latter of whom is half Greek.[97]

On 16 May 2022, Mitsotakis met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House.[98] On the next day, Mitsotakis became the first Prime Minister of Greece to address a Joint session of the United States Congress at the invitation of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.[99][100][101][102]

During his term as PM, Mitsotakis has received both praise and criticism for his pro-European, technocratic governance, austerity measures,[6] and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.[7][8] Greece was named the Top Economic Performer for 2022 by The Economist,[14] in particular because Greece in 2022 repaid ahead of schedule 2.7 billion euros ($2.87 billion) of loans owed to Eurozone countries under the first bailout it received during its decade-long debt crisis, and also because of being on the verge of reaching investment-grade rating.[15][16] Mitsotakis has also received criticism on the subject of corruption, as during his term, Greece has experienced heightened corruption,[22][23] and a deterioration of freedom of the press.[24][25][26] His term was also marred by the Novartis corruption scandal,[103][104] the 2022 wiretapping scandal,[27] and the Tempi Train crash.[28] In addition, he has received both praise and criticism for his handling of migration, receiving praise and aid from the European Union,[56] but criticism from journalists and activists for pushbacks, which his government has denied.[105]

2023 elections[edit]

Mitsotakis visited President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on 22 April in order to request the dissolution of the Parliament due to a national issue of extraordinary importance (pursuant to Article 41 of the Constitution of Greece); the issue cited was the need of political stability for the achievement of investment-grade.[106][107] The election day was set for Sunday 21 May,[107] a day before the end of the 30-day period within which elections must be held following the dissolution of the Parliament.

New Democracy won the majority of votes but did not win an outright majority. As no coalition government was formed by any of the parties eligible to do so, Mitsotakis called for another snap election in June.[108][109][110] On 24 May, as required by Greece's constitution, President Sakellaropoulou appointed Ioannis Sarmas to be the caretaker prime minister for the interim.[111]

One month later he once again led his party to a majority in the June 2023 Greek legislative election and was sworn in as prime minister receiving the order to form a government by the President.[112][113][114]

Second term (2023–present)[edit]

Mitsotakis with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Athens, 20 February 2023

In July 2023, Mitsotakis announced that he intended to legalise same-sex marriage in Greece.[115] On 17 September, Mitsotakis stated that the subject would be addressed in Greece within the next four years.[116]

In October 2023, Mitsotakis condemned Hamas' actions during the 2023 Israel–Hamas war and expressed his support to Israel and "its right to self-defense".[117] Greece agreed to participate in the next steps towards supporting NATO operations in the region, but later backed a ceasefire call through the United Nations.[118]

In 2024, his tenure continued with the introduction of landmark bills, focusing on the establishment of private academic institutions in Greece,[119] as well as revisions to the tax and income systems.[120] Additionally, legislation was proposed for same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, a move that was widely described as progressive.[121][122] However, these initiatives faced significant opposition from right-wing and hard-right factions within the party,[123] as well as the Greek Orthodox church,[124] who openly expressed their disagreement with the proposed legislation.[125] To address these concerns and secure support ahead of the parliamentary vote, Mitsotakis took the unconventional step of organizing educational meetings for dissenting members, aiming to provide a detailed explanation of the potential benefits of the proposed bills for same-sex couples.[126] According to journalistic sources, the educational initiave was not successful.[127]

Prior to the government's plans to legalize private higher education systems, it came under criticism for allegedly violating Article 16 of the constitution.[128] Legal experts and other political parties argued that the government was circumventing the constitution by introducing private institutions without first amending the constitution.[129][130] Some contend that amending the constitution is unfeasible due to the government's insufficient number of MPs in the Greek Parliament.[131] Essentially, Mitsotakis's approach has been viewed as a shortcut, which many consider unconstitutional, resulting in widespread protests against private institutions.[132][133][134]

During a non-protocol visit to Ukraine on 6 March to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in the mark of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he almost fell victim to a Russian bombing perpetrated near his entourage, leaving 5 dead.[135][136]

Personal life[edit]

Mitsotakis is the younger brother of former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyannis, making him the brother-in-law of the late Pavlos Bakoyannis, who was assassinated by the terrorist group 17 November in 1989 and the uncle of Kostas Bakoyannis,[137] former Regional Governor of Central Greece and former Mayor of Athens.

Mitsotakis is married to Mareva Grabowska, an investment banker with British, Greek, Polish and Egyptian roots. They have three children, Sophia, Konstantinos and Daphne.[138]

In addition to Greek, Mitsotakis speaks English, French and some German.[139]

Venizelos/Mitsotakis family tree[edit]

Main members of the Venizelos/Mitsotakis/Bakoyannis family.[140] Prime Ministers of Greece are highlighted in light blue.
Kyriakos Venizelos [la]
(?–1883)
Styliani Ploumidaki
(1830–1897)
Eleftherios Venizelos
(1864–1936)
Katingo Venizelou
(1858–1934)
Constantine "Costis" Mitsotakis [el]
(1845–1898)
Kyriakos Venizelos [el]
(1892–1942)
Sofoklis Venizelos
(1894–1964)
Kyriakos Mitsotakis [el]
(1892–1942)
Stavroula Ploumidaki[141]
(1896–1983)
Nikitas Venizelos
(1930–2020)
Konstantinos Mitsotakis
(1918–2017)
Marika Giannoukou
(1930–2012)
Pavlos Bakoyannis
(1935–1989)
Dora Bakoyannis
née Mitsotaki
(b. 1954)
Kyriakos Mitsotakis
(b. 1968)
Kostas Bakoyannis
(b. 1978)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

This page incorporates information from the Hellenic Parliament website

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External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by President of New Democracy
2016–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance
2013–2015
Succeeded byas Minister for Administrative Reorganization
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
2016–2019
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Greece
2019–2023
Succeeded by
Ioannis Sarmas
Preceded by Prime Minister of Greece
2023–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence
Preceded byas President Order of precedence of Greece
Prime Minister
Succeeded byas Speaker of the Parliament