New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras focused his speech at the party’s political committee on Sunday on criticizing the majority ruling party SYRIZA for its policies, while he rejected all calls for a party congress and change in leadership.
“We lost the elections but retained our forces,” he said, “even though we applied an extremely difficult but necessary policy for Greece, with cutbacks and reforms that were unpleasant for many — you do the math, with PASOK, which ruled by itself and lost 31 percentage points and was dispersed. We retained our forces and remained a ruling party… Is there any doubt we kept the country in the euro? Is there any doubt that we saved the country?”
He said when the party took over rule, the deficit was at 9.5 percent, and when it left it had a 1.5 percent surplus. “It also was faced with a recession of 7 percent and this year it is expected that Greece will register 2.5 percent growth. If we had not been stopped, we would have exited the memorandums permanently this year,” he claimed.
Samaras stressed that the state of the Greek economy was dire and claimed the government was in panic, saying that the legislation the current government is passing to relieve society was already in place by his government. “We are not in a hurry to kick them out,” he said, “they are doing whatever they can to leave sooner. We are here to make sure the country doesn’t hit the rocks and we’ll do whatever we can to prevent that.”
Party-wise, he said that holding a congress would “lead the party to becoming ingrown,” while he said he would now open it to new members, both at the base and at the higher echelons.