Far-left government has cost Greece two years of economic gains: Opposition leader

The leftist Syriza government has set Greece's economy back two years, the leader of the country's main opposition party told CNBC, as he called for snap elections.

"We are ready to win the election and we are ready to govern," Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of the conservative New Democracy party, said in Athens.

New Democracy was Greece's ruling party for three years under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who was succeeded by firebrand Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party in September last year.

"We have to point out that Greece, back in 2014, was actually in the process of coming out of a very steep recession. As a result of the policies of the current government, we basically lost two years. We have had a recession in 2015, a recession in 2016 and we hope that we will have a mild recovery in 2017," Mitsotakis told CNBC on Thursday.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Alkis Konstantinidis | Reuters
Kyriakos Mitsotakis

The European Commission sees the Greek economy shrinking this year by 0.3 percent. The economy shrunk each year on an annual basis between 2008 and 2013, before posting narrow growth in 2014 and shrinking 0.2 percent in 2015.

"The problem is that this government is implementing the wrong policies; is implementing the wrong fiscal mix; is overtaxing the productive economy and has not engaged in meaningful structural reforms that will attract foreign investment. So as much as I would like to believe that the economy is going to recover I have serious doubts that it will happen with these types of policies," Mitsotakis told CNBC.

In January, Mitsotakis succeeded Samaras, under whom he served as Minister of Administrative Reform and E-Governance, as party leader.

If a snap election were called, Mitsotakis might be in a good position to become Greece's next prime minister, as polls steadily show New Democracy with a lead over Syriza. However, the vote need not be held until 2019.

Demonstrators protest against austerity measures in Athens, Greece.
Angelos Tzortzinis | AFP | Getty Images
Demonstrators protest against austerity measures in Athens, Greece.

"I believe we have the full capacity to win this election — that is at least that is what our polls indicate — and should this happen, Greece will have a competent, pro-reform government and I think this government will be in a position to attract foreign investment and will be in a position to implement policies that would deliver the true growth potential of the economy," Mitsotakis told CNBC.

Mitsotakis honed his free market credentials at Harvard Business School and Chase Manhattan Bank and McKinsey in London and is from a political family — he is the son of former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis and his sister, Dora Bakoyannis, is a New Democracy politician.

"I cannot force an election but I am fundamentally optimistic about the medium-to-long term prospects of this country," Mitsotakis concluded.

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