Greece’s conservative New Democracy party has won a landslide victory in the country’s second election in five weeks, early results showed, granting its leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a second four-year term as prime minister.

With 77% of ballots counted, New Democracy had won 40.45% of the vote, a result that would give Mitsotakis an outright majority in the 300-seat parliament.

Syriza, the centre-left party led by Mitsotakis’s main opponent, Alexis Tsipras, was on 17.81%, in a rout that was even worse than the 20% it achieved in elections last month.

Three smaller parties, including the previously unheard-of Spartans, also crossed the 3% threshold to get into parliament. MeRA 25, led by the maverick former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, failed to make it into the house.

“The non-entry of MeRA 25 into parliament is the least of it,” Varoufakis told reporters, saying what the left should be mourning was its failure to turn a 10-year battle of resistance against austerity “into a progressive front [that could] prevent the transformation of rage into a far-right current”.

A previous poll on 21 May also ended in a decisive victory for 55-year-old Mitsotakis, but because it was conducted under an electoral system of proportional representation, he was left five seats short of a majority.

The pro-business leader went for broke and called a second election with the sole aim of forming a stable government that would allow him to push ahead with wide-ranging changes.

The electoral law under which Sunday’s race took place rewards the winner with up to 50 bonus seats in the Athens parliament. Mitsotakis had repeatedly said he needed at least 158 seats to rule comfortably.

“We are voting so people can have a stable government for the next four years,” Mitsotakis told reporters after voting in northern Athens on Sunday. “I am sure that Greeks will vote with maturity for their personal prosperity and the country’s stability.”

The social democratic Pasok party came in third, followed by the orthodox communist KKE party with an improved performance compared with five weeks ago. In a surprise outcome, the Spartans, a new ultra-right grouping inspired by the now defunct neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, was shown picking up 4.7%. Thanking Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn’s jailed former spokesperson, for his support, its leader, Vasillis Stingas, pledged the Spartans would bring a “new style and ethos” to Greek political life.

In all, eight parties surpassed the 3% threshold to enter parliament.

Though viewed as a foregone conclusion, the vote came days after a shipwreck off the country’s coast left hundreds of migrants and refugees dead – a disaster that brought the former prime minister’s tough stand on migration into sharp relief amid criticism over the response of a coastguard trained under his watch.

However, neither that nor a devastating train crash that left 57 mostly young Greeks dead in February, or the wiretapping of political rivals and journalists, appeared to have dented the self-described liberal’s appeal.

Instead, in the weeks since the May vote, New Democracy consistently led polls with a double-digit lead over Syriza.

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Analysts said Sunday’s victory was testimony to the desire of voters to see Greece continue on a path of “normalcy” after the debt-stricken country’s brush with bankruptcy and decade-long rollercoaster crisis of bailouts and austerity.

In his first term in office, Mitsotakis brought down unemployment, reduced taxes, attracted foreign investors and digitalised an outdated bureaucracy that had become synonymous with Greece’s resistance to modernisation. He has promised in his second term to raise salaries, increase the minimum monthly wage to €950 (£817), lower taxes further, overhaul the public health system and improve the country’s infrastructure.

Tsipras, Syriza’s leader and former prime minister, has highlighted the need to create a “more just” society for all and warned of an “all-powerful” right endangering accepted democratic norms if, in the absence of an effective opposition, Mitsotakis is given free rein.

But the leftist alliance, which rose on a wave of populist anti-austerity rhetoric at the height of Greece’s debt crisis, was also accused of not having a persuasive programme that could successfully deal with longstanding ills. Sunday’s result could be decisive for the political survival of Tsipras and the course Syriza will take in the months ahead.

Speaking after voting in a western Athens neighbourhood, Tsipras seemed to accept his party would be in opposition for the next four years even while the voting was still open.

“This crucial election is not only determining who will govern the country, it is determining our lives for the next four years. It is determining the quality of our democracy,” Tsipras said. “It is determining whether we will have an unchecked government or a strong opposition. This role can only be played by Syriza.”


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