Breaking ranks with a fellow Conservative, Greece’s major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his populist Fidesz party should be ejected from the center-right European People’s Party.
Leading in polls during an election year and speaking at the Delphi Economic Forum, Mitsotakis compared Orban, who has been denounced by European Union leaders for his anti-immigrant views amid charges by critics in his country his regime is corrupt, to Greek Premier and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis as being equally populist.
As he’s been railing against populist right-wing governments in the EU, Tsipras has made Greece the second-most populist country in the bloc, a survey showed.
Greece is behind only Hungary with Tsipras’ administration seen being as repressive from the left side in terms of “authoritarian populism”, according to this year’s Authoritarian Populism Index, compiled by Sweden’s Timbro think tank.
According to its website, the Timbro Authoritarian Populism Index is the “only Europe-wide comprehensive study that aims to shed light on whether populism poses a long-term threat to European liberal democracies.”
Mitsotakis said he would send a letter to the EPP March 4, requesting the suspension of Fidesz until it drops its far-right rhetoric and complies with European principles and values.
He compared Tsipras’s behavior to that of the authoritarian Orban, referring to interventions in the justice system and the media. “Greece is not only facing a challenge to its economy, it’s also facing a challenge to its democracy,” he added.
During a conversation with Peter Spiegel of the Financial Times about “inclusive growth,” Mitsotakis said that, if elected to government, he would propose a “new grand bargain” of reforms in exchange for lower primary surplus targets after 2020. The high targets of recent years intensified the crisis for the middle class and other social groups, he said, blaming this “vicious cycle” on the leftist government’s failure to implement reforms.
With Tsipras claiming he’s brought Greece to the brink of recovery – without mentioning, if so it’s largely because he reneged on anti-austerity vows – Mitsotakis said what’s really needed is growth and investment as he promised to roll back an avalanche of taxes that Tsipras imposed, including raising the corporate rate to 29 percent.
Mitsotakis said that 2 percent rate is not enough and his government, if elect, would try toi double that through tax breaks, not hikes. “It’s a colossal pity that we lost three excellent global macroeconomic years at a time that all our competitors were growing,” he said.
He said he has studied the mistakes of a series of premiers in recent years, noting that former PASOK Socialist premier George Papandreou, who drove his party out of existence, “spent six months supposedly not getting it” and had offered handouts while the country was heading toward bankruptcy.