I’M currently in Greece, on the island of Zakynthos. I’ve been here for a few weeks and spend much of my time here after unsuspectingly coming on a family holiday and meeting a half-Greek, half-Scot a year ago.

It was my gran that inspired my first trip here, she loved this island and over the last year, I’ve come to understand why. The island itself is beautiful – littered with the crystal blue seas and pearly beaches that Greece is renowned for.

Although, amongst all of its beauty, it’s hard not to notice the crumbling infrastructure and the decimated historical architecture of the island’s main town – never having recovered from a massive earthquake decades ago. The lack of government investment is almost as clear as the sea.

With an economy so dependent on tourism, the vast majority of the locals are forced to work for six months of the year, seven days a week – for generally very poor wages. The effects of political failure remain the elephant in the room, across all corners of this society.

What has struck me the most about it, is that in the face of such challenges, and with little helpful intervention from the European Union, the resolve of the people remains. The kindness and community here are something quite rare, and we should all seek to replicate it.

As it happens, I was here for the Greek election over the weekend. As much as Scottish politics thrills me, it’s international politics that really piques my interest. I watched on Sunday as the locals I’ve come to call friends and family took to the polling stations and I watched as the results rolled in – to many shaking heads – in what was a resounding victory for right-wing incumbent Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The election victory of Mitsotakis and his New Democracy party in 2019 marked a significant political shift across Greece. His win was not only a reflection of the Greek electorate’s desire for change but a consequence of the global rise in populism – particularly attributable to the election of Donald Trump – and a refugee crisis across Europe that Greece found itself central to.

Mitsotakis’s victory certainly signalled a desired departure from the political status quo, but is that the reality?

His campaign resonated with voters who had grown disillusioned with the left-wing Syriza party’s inability to deliver on its promises of change and economic stability; and its outright failure to handle rapid economic decline. After decades of serious instability across the country, Greece was in desperate need of strong fiscal leadership.

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The economic history of Greece is misunderstood, and many attribute its downfall to joining the eurozone in 2001. In reality, problems started long before and stem from a perfect storm of high inflation, corruption, low productivity, an exchange rate crisis and systemic tax evasion that still plagues the economic prosperity of the country to this day. In fact, Greece misrepresented its economic position in order to join the eurozone in the first place.

In 2009, things escalated significantly. The global recession laid bare the consequences of structural weaknesses – orchestrated by decades of consecutive failures of leadership – and plunged the Greek economy into despair, almost irreparably so.

This proved the perfect breeding ground for a right-wing manifesto, laden with references to promised growth and prosperity.

Mitsotakis presented himself as a pragmatic, sensible leader offering what seemed on paper to be water-tight solutions to Greece’s economic challenges, focusing heavily on economic growth, high unemployment rates and hard-lining on net migration. Not dissimilar to the policy base of the UK Tories.

It's understandable why the Greeks might have looked at this opportunity for change through rose-tinted glasses. History shows us that in times of discontent and instability, right-wing narratives thrive.

Mitsotakis’s tough stance on migration undoubtedly was a key factor, as the conflict in Syria resulted in the mass movement of millions through Europe with Greece being one of the closest and safest shores for those fleeing the terror of IS and the Syrian regime.

Refugees became Mitsotakis’s cannon fodder, and his campaign capitalised on both the suffering of refugees and his own people, in what was ultimately a successful bid to divide and conquer. A tactic that, again, we are all too familiar with.

His initial election win almost made psychological sense – and not least because his opposition paved the way for his triumph.

Hot off the tails of their 2015 election win, Syriza effectively ended their own electoral success and eroded public trust with their handling of the country’s insurmountable debt problem.

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Later that year, the Greeks defaulted on a €1.6 billion debt to the IMF – the largest defaulted sum of its kind in the developed world.

Of course, Mitsotakis’s government has not been immune from scandal and his promises remain undelivered for the most vulnerable. Whilst growth, on paper, has increased this hasn’t translated for the vast majority of Greeks.

One-third of the country are at risk of poverty, wages remain low, voter suppression is alive and well and a cost of living crisis is strangling communities across all four corners. The train accident in February of this year, which left 57 dead and sparked mass protest, shone a light on the systemic failures that Greek citizens continue to pay for.

Mitsotakis’s election win was largely attributable to the vast difficulties and failures of previous administrations but it’s hard to look at it independently from the global rise in populism.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a significant rise in right-wing narratives and the success of a number of populist leaders and movements.

The danger is that this category of political discourse tends to deepen the very problems it promises to fix. In the UK we’ve seen outright economic self-sabotage at the hands of a right-wing conservative party that position themselves as the party of economics.

Greece is no different, and the election of Mitsotakis tells us that not only are Greece’s political struggles far from over, but the global populist wave is here to stay.