New Democracy Leadership Race Fires up Ahead of Party Convention



samaras

Greek main opposition New Democracy leader and former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is preparing his armory for the upcoming critical meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Group on Thursday, where he is expected to go under friendly fire and his leadership be challenged by fellow party members. So far, numerous party officials have requested an emergency party convention, to which the former Premier is expected to counter propose an emergency national convention.

According to information emerging from the party, Samaras appears to be realizing that he must address the recent crushing defeat in the January 25 elections and will have to carry out major changes within the party, while he is also said to be preparing a “reshuffle,” which will result to at least two of his close associates leaving. This may be welcomed by several New Democracy functions, which have been recently marginalized, although it remains to be proved whether such an initiative will bring the desired effect or end the long-standing silent internal conflict.

Among others, former government spokesperson of the Karamanlis administration Evangelos Antonaros has once again spread discomfiture among party members after tweeting that the party should proceed to a “political redefining in order to get rid of the extreme right schlock and neo-liberal doctrine.”

Parallel to the battle preparations, several New Democracy officials have been visiting former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who is still seen as an influential figure within the party and enjoys wider acceptance, to get his advice on the matter. As the same information indicates, Karamanlis will attend Samaras’ speech on Thursday and he has urged party members to remain calm, stressing the importance of maintaining party unity. European Commissioner and party veteran Dimitris Avramopoulos is also expected to attend the meeting.

Thursday’s meeting is characterized as the most critical session for New Democracy since February 2012, when a major divide occurred after Samaras decided to vote for the second bailout program.

It should be noted that New Democracy MP and former Foreign Affairs Minister of the Karamanlis administration between 2006 and 2009 Dora Bakoyannis, in a recent interview to Greek TV, did not rule out the possibility of challenging the party’s leadership in the near future after what was seen as a major defeat in the recent Greek general elections. “What I have to say, I will say it to the Parliamentary Group,” she declared then, adding that Greece needs a “healthy and powerful center right front,” which does not reflect New Democracy’s current situation. Furthermore, as she explained, she has no personal goals and her only desire is to see the party “recover” and find its right political outlook once again.


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