When Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power as prime minister in July last year, he had a familiar pitch to Greeks. In opposition to the populist, left-wing government under the Syriza party, he offered an economically liberal and technocratic program that would attract foreign investment and do away with many of the ailments that have plagued Greece’s state machinery for decades.
A year later, though, things are not where Mitsotakis hoped they would be. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed not just his economic plans, but the global economy as a whole. He now faces some all-too familiar economic and political problems in Greece, made worse by a summer spike in COVID-19 cases after it looked like the country had the coronavirus under control.
Mitsotakis had reacted swiftly in the early stages of the pandemic. Keenly aware that the Greek health system lacked the capacity to respond to a large-scale demand for ICUs following a decade of extreme austerity, Mitsotakis imposed a strict lockdown in March that largely contained the virus. Greece received international plaudits for its successful coronavirus response.