EU Elections: Imprisoned Greek mayor-elect of Himara among the ND's seven elected MEPs

EU Elections: Imprisoned Greek mayor-elect of Himara among the ND's seven elected MEPs

In Greece, ruling party leads but far-right also rises. The elected mayor of Himara, Fredi Beleri, is among the winners from the list of MEP candidates of the " New Democracy " Party of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Among the ND’s seven elected MEPs is the ethnic Greek mayor-elect of Himara in Albania, Fredi Beleri, who was sentenced to two years in prison in Albania for vote-buying in the mayoral election. His conviction has caused a diplomatic dispute between Albania and Greece. Beleri, who is still in jail, said that his success in the European election was “unimaginable for a country [Albania] that wants to become a member of the European family”.

Fredi Beleri has reacted for the first time after securing a seat in the European Parliament, as the MEP of the political force of the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Through a message from prison, Beleri describes his election as an MEP, as a victory of light over darkness.

Beleri declares that the war was won thanks to the pride and patriotism of the Greeks. In the message to the supporters, Beleri underlines that the voice of the minority will now be even stronger.

“Throughout all the months of my adventure, I was strengthened by my belief that light always wins over darkness. And that the power of democracy can overturn any putschist practice, it is enough to have the will and faith in a higher purpose. As we had fighting in this war. A fight for democracy, the rule of law, the freedoms and dignity of citizens.

The war was won under difficult conditions, unimaginable for a country that wants to become part of the European family. And it was won. Thanks to the honor, patriotism and pride of the Greeks.

I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all the Greeks who honored me with their vote. My family who became my support and voice during this period. Friends all over Greece who stood by me through the hardest test of my life. And of course Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who gave me the opportunity to be a candidate, for which I will always be grateful.

I want to tell my brothers of Northern Hellenism that from today they too can feel stronger. And every one of our fellow citizens, as a member of the European Parliament, I will work hard to be useful for my party, New Democracy and above all for our country”, Beleri declares in his reaction.

We remind that Fredi Beleri is currently the third most voted by New Democracy in the European Parliament elections in Greece, where it seems that he will secure a seat in the European Parliament, as the party of the Greek Prime Minister will be represented there with 7 deputies.

The European parliamentary elections in Greece were marked by a low turnout – over 60 per cent of voters did not cast ballots – and the election of four far-right MEPs. With 99.98 per cent of the votes counted, the governing centre-right New Democracy party, ND, came first with 28.31 per cent, taking seven seats.

It did not do as well as in the 2023 general elections, when it won over 40 per cent of the vote.

The left-wing SYRIZA party came second with 14.92 per cent and four seats, while the left-wing PASOK came third with 12.79 per cent and three seats.

EllinikiLysi (Greek Solution) came next with 9.30 per cent and two seats, the Greek Communist party, KKE, won 9.25 per cent and two seats, and another far-right party, Niki, won 4.37 per cent and one seat. PleussiEleftherias won 3.4 per cent and one seat and a third far-right party, FoniLogikis, won 3.04 per cent and one seat.

Among minority parties in Greece, the Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace, which advocates for the “Turks of Western Thrace” came first in the Rhodope and Xanthi regions. Greece does not recognise the existence of a Turkish minority in Thrace, only a “Muslim minority”, which also includes Pomaks (Bulgarian-speaking Muslims) and Muslim Roma.

Centre-right parties celebrated wins in Croatia, Greece and Bulgaria – but far-right forces also notched up small advances across the region amid low turnouts.

European and domestic parliamentary elections in Bulgaria on Sunday marked the next step in the political comeback of populist ex-prime minister Boyko Borissov, leader of the centre-right GERB party.

Turnout was an all-time low for Bulgaria. Only 32.5 per cent of voters took part in the general elections and 33.4 per cent in the European Parliamentary race according to Alpha Research agency.

The Central Election Committee’s preliminary results, based on 50.9 per cent of ballots processed, placed GERB/United Democratic Forces first in the parliamentary elections, with 23.5 per cent.

Who came second remained unclear. The reformist duo of We Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria won 15.4 per cent and, despite a major drop in voter support, won in Sofia, highlighting where their main support lies.

GERB’s partners in the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, MRF, won 15.1 while the pro-Russia far-right Revival won 14.5 per cent. Another faction aligned with Russia, the once mighty Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, won 6.9 per cent and the nationalist There’s Such a People stand won 6.5 per cent.

A recently founded party, Greatness, made it selection debut with some 5.1 per cent. Greatness (Velichie) has been investigated as be a Ponzi scheme by the local Capital weekly newspaper and has been connected with paramilitary trainings. The party, with no clear positioning on the right/left spectrum but leaning towards nationalist, pro-Russian, Eurosceptic and conspiratorial ideas, ran a campaign largely relying on YouTube, TikTok and Telegram content.

Although some see Greatness as modelled on Revival, the two parties have been hostile towards each other. At a post-election press conference, Greatness co-founder Ivelin Mihaylov clarified that “the biggest difference between us and Revival is that they want Bulgaria to be on Russia’s side, while we’re promoting neutrality.” He denied hosting paramilitary trainings or running a financial pyramid scheme.

The outcome of the general elections means that around 25-30 per cent of voters chose pro-Russian forces.

According to the same preliminary results, GERB also came first in the European Parliament elections with 22.9 per cent of the votes, ahead of WW/DB on 15.7 per cent, Revival on 14.9 per cent, MRF on 11.1 per cent, BSP on 7.1 and There’s Such a People on 6.6 per cent.

The general elections, the sixth in three years, overlapped with the European Parliament elections following the dissolution of the uneasy coalition between GERB/UDF and WCC/DB.

Euronews, Balkan Insight


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