New Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Catholic Church warns new Greek PM not to rule for wealthy

The president of Caritas Greece, Antonios Voutsinos, has reminded the country’s new Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, that “Greece is a poor country and policies cannot be influenced by the wealthier classes”.

Mitsotakis is the son of a former Greek PM and a member of one of Greece’s wealthiest and most powerful political families, who has been caught up both in the Panama Papers off-shore tax fraud scandal and the Siemens Greek bribery case.

Driving the news

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy conservative party won 39.85% of Sunday’s vote, giving it an absolute majority in the new Parliament. Incumbent PM Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party managed 31.53% of the ballots.

Mitsotakis was sworn in in a ceremony in Athens on Monday.

“I want to see this people prosper. I want to see the children who left to return”, Mitsotakis told supporters who had gathered to celebrate the win, promising to implement a program of lower taxes, greater privatisation of public services and a renegotiation of Greece’s debt.

The big picture

“The election campaign was full of promises. Now we’ll see if they are kept”, said Antonios Voutsinos, Caritas head in Greece, commenting on the election results.

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The priest said the challenges for the new PM are manifold. On the one hand, there is the repayment of the 110 billion euros that Greece still owes to the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. On the other, the “thorny issues” of Northern Macedonia and relations with neighbouring Turkey.

The intrigue

Voutsinos, however, called on the new PM to prioritise one particular challenge over the others: the reconstruction of a healthy economy.

“What matters now is making sure the sacrifices and tears of the Greeks haven’t been in vain. It should be remembered that Greece is a poor country and policies cannot be influenced by the wealthier classes”, said the priest.

“Reducing taxes, increasing salaries and pensions, creating new jobs: these are the first unavoidable challenges that the new government is called to face”, insisted Voutsinos.

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For the record

“The Greek population is still affected by the crisis even if the numbers seem to say that we have come out of it”, explained the head of Caritas Greece. 

“It’s difficult to live in dignity when those who work barely earn €370 a month, when there is no adequate health, when pensions are continually cut and do not exceed €400 a month, when taxes are very high. Many citizens evade taxes and work illegally”, lamented the priest.

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