New Democracy Rift For Athens Mayor

New Democracy Rift For Athens Mayor

The ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will back one of its Members of Parliament, Aris Spiliotopoulos as its candidate for Athens Mayor, creating an instant battle as another of the party’s lawmakers and a former holder of the office, Nikitas Kaklamanis, said he wants the job back and will run against his own party’s choice.

Spiliotopoulos, 47, a former minister of both tourism and education and religious affairs, said he had Samaras’ backing, raising the prospect of how the Premier will deal with Kaklamanis, who said he would create an independent local political group to try to topple the man who beat him, George Kaminis, who is an Independent.

Samaras’ coalition, which also includes the PASOK Socialists, has only a three-vote majority in the Parliament during a tender time when it is being pressed by international lenders to speed the pace of reforms and close a 2.4 billion-euro hole in the 2014 budget and he would be hard-pressed to reprimand or eject Kaklamanis, who said he would soon announce his platform.

Kaklamanis, 67, then would be in the position of being both a member of New Democracy and a separate political group cutting into the base of the party and Spiliotopoulos, draining away votes. Kaklamanis said, “My love for Athens was not opportunist. For me it was, is and will always be Athens First.”

In statements, Spiliotopoulos said he would be rising to “the invitation/challenge for a more beautiful Athens, an Athens whose residents and visitors will feel safety, an Athens capable of fueling the creative forces of us all. For an Athens that we love and want to earn the place that it deserves.”

Sources told the Athens News Agency that the Prime Minister’s office has already commissioned an opinion poll measuring Spiliotopoulos’ popularity with those of the other candidates that have announced their intention to run so far.

These include Gavriil Sakellaridis for main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Nikos Sofianos from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Ilias Kasidiaris from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party.