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Nine new hands and 12 old ones heading to Strasbourg

Nine new hands and 12 old ones heading to Strasbourg

Πηγή Φωτογραφίας: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers the State of the European Union address to the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France. REUTERS/Yves Herman

A brief look at the 21 lawmakers Greeks elected to represent them in the European Parliament for the next five years

With a few exceptions, Greeks chose people they knew to represent the country in the European Parliament on Sunday. They voted chiefly for existing MEPs, television presenters and career politicians. So who are the 15 men and six women headed to Strasbourg?

Of the 21 new MEPs, nine have already represented the country in the European Parliament. Vangelis Meimarakis (with 260,348 votes at the time of writing), a lawyer and former minister and president of the ruling New Democracy party, has been an MEP since 2019. An MEP since 2014, lawyer and former MP Eliza Vozemberg (246,962) was elected for a third time with the conservatives, as was another former MP with ND, Manolis Kefalogiannis (162,075).

From the main opposition SYRIZA, two MEPs were re-elected for a second term: Kostas Arvanitis (154,433), a journalist who also earned the biggest number of votes in the party on Sunday, and former tourism minister Elena Kountoura (114,678).

Even though he was not elected in 2019 but was appointed to the EP in 2023 to replace Nikos Androulakis, who left Strasbourg to lead the third-placed socialist PASOK party in Athens, economist Nikos Papandreou – the son of the late party founder, Andreas, and brother of former prime minister George – was re-elected on Sunday with 122,898 votes.

Greek voters also re-elected veterinarian Emmanouil Fragkos (with 110,358 votes) to the European Parliament, where he has represented the nationalist-populist pro-Russian Greek Solution since 2019 when he replaced party chief Kyriakos Velopoulos. The 78-year-old retired livestock farmer and butcher Galato Alexandraki is the second MP Greek Solution is sending to the 720-seat House in Strasbourg, with 51,279 votes.

Staying put from the Greek Communist Party (KKE) are Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos (108,2272) and Konstantinos Papadakis (106,322), both career politicians and both among the 13 MEPs who refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

As for the remaining seats, they serve as a reminder of the power of television. TV journalist and household staple Giorgos Aftias led the pack with 309,910 votes, the highest not just inside ND but also among all the candidates. Fellow ND candidate and TV presenter Eleonora Meleti, who hosted a popular TV lifestyle show, was also elected to European Parliament with 173,359 votes, even though her nomination in April had raised eyebrows and was widely lambasted on social media.

A TV weather presenter, Sakis Arnaoutoglou, is also heading to Strasbourg with PASOK after receiving 91,793 votes, managing to outnumber candidates with strong inner-party credentials. The single seat of the ultra-Orthodox, ultra-conservative Niki party will be occupied by Nikos Anadiotis (41,920), a model, actor, former reality show contestant and morning show panelist, who gained traction among Niki voters when he claimed homosexuality was a sin.

ND’s third most successful candidate with 238,139 votes was Fredi Beleri, the mayor-elect of the predominantly ethnic Greek town of Himare in southern Albania, who is currently in prison after being convicted of vote buying in a trial Athens has roundly dismissed as a politically motivated sham. His pre-election campaign was run by his son, Petros. The last MEP to be elected with ND is Dimitris Tsiodras (157,306), the former head of the prime minister’s press office.

SYRIZA supporters are also sending to Strasbourg retired basketball player Nikos Pappas (with 127,771 votes), who had been rumored in last year’s local elections as a candidate for the Athens mayorship but didn’t make the cut, as well as Nikolas Farantouris (136,600), a professor of European and energy law at the University of Piraeus.

Another academic at the University of Piraeus, digital systems professor Yannis Maniatis (107,939), who is also a former minister for the environment, energy and climate change, has also been elected to the EP on the PASOK ticket.

Course of Freedom, the populist anti-systemic party of lawyer and former SYRIZA MP and Parliament speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, has secured just one seat in the EP, which goes to Maria Zacharia (23,123 votes), an employee at a shipping firm and unionist who is responsible for labor issues in the party.

The last seat in the European Parliament goes to the fringe/nationalist Voice of Reason party and to its leader, Afroditi Latinopoulou (58,805 votes), a lawyer and tennis coach. The 33-year old was kicked out of New Democracy in 2022 after making comments denigrating obese people. She has a strong anti-abortion, anti-immigration agenda.

Source: ekathimerini.com//Iliana Magra

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