Populism is an effective tool when a party is in the opposition but an ineffective one when a party is in power, New Democracy (ND)leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday during a lecture titled “The future of Democracy” in Harvard.
“Populism is effective in opposition and ineffective in government,” he told attendees and separated his party’s position from populism saying its aim is to offer a new vision of politics. “Our first priority is to show the world we recognize the mistakes of the past. To restore its trust. To convince we’re changing. With new ideas, new people, new policies,” he said, adding ND took a risk to try and build a “culture of hope” based on the truth.
Mitsotakis said tackling populism constitutes a crucial issue for Greece whether it comes from the Left of the Right. “SYRIZA was elected supported by a big lie. Inevitably, the country collided with reality. We had to sign a third memorandum. The economy remains in recession. Six years after the outbreak of the crisis, Greece remains in aid programs. 90% of the population believes the country is heading in the wrong direction,” he said.
Concerning his party’s recipe for an exit from the crisis, the ND leader said Greece needs a new policy mix that will include cutting taxation and government spending to bring growth.
“At the same time, we stressed the need to attract foreign investment to create new jobs. We have to stop the brain drain immediately. Greece has comparative advantages and these must be highlighted,” he said, adding that this requires a political change.
Mitsotakis also explained that Greece must negotiate with its lenders to lower the agreed targets for primary surpluses, as it is very difficult for the economy to recover with a target of a 3.5 percent surplus for the next decade.
“Such high surpluses can undermine reforms. Primary surpluses are directly inked with the issue of Greece’s unsustainable debt,” he said.