(Left to Right: Meimarakis, Mitsotakis, Georgiadis, Tzitzikostas)
The four candidates for the presidency of New Democracy are bracing for Sunday’s election giving their final speeches to potential voters. There are many differences between the four potential leaders, covering the area between the conservative right and center.
Vangelis Meimarakis is acting New Democracy president after replacing Antonis Samaras who resigned in the summer. He led the party in the September 20 elections getting about 28 percent of the total vote against the 36.5 percent of SYRIZA. The fact that he managed to maintain the same percentage as Antonis Samaras’ in January is a plus for him since the party has been discredited during the first months of SYRIZA rule. Born in 1953, he is the oldest of the four, representing the old guard of the party..
Meimarakis founded ONNED, the party youth association in 1974, right after the establishment of the conservative party by Constantinos Karamanlis in post-dictatorship Greece. He was elected in parliament in 1989, after serving as ONNED president for 5 years. In 1992 he was appointed minister of culture; in 2006 he was appointed minister of defense. In 2012 he was elected House Speaker.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis carries the burden of the unpopular last name of his father, Constantinos Mitsotakis, a former prime minister whose administration (1990-1993) had been one of the least favorable for his neoliberal policies. He is the only candidate who has presented a solid program that he intends to follow if elected. He aims at bringing centrist voters to the New Democracy fold.
Born in 1968, Mitsotakis graduated from Harvard in 1990. After working for 10 years in the private sector, he got into politics and was elected in parliament in 2004. He was reelected in 2007and 2012, and in 2013 he was appointed minister of administrative reform.
Adonis Georgiadis is the loud, outspoken book salesman who started working at his father’s bookstore at 15 and to this day he peddles books on Greek history and ancient Greece. He is a confessed conservative right-winger who is for family values and the Greek Orthodox religion. He is ridiculed by leftists for his manners and promises he will give Alexis Tsipras a run for his money if elected.
Georgiadis was born in 1972 and 20 years later he joined the conservative party student association. In 2007 he was elected in parliament with rightist party LAOS. He was appointed deputy maritime minister in 2011 and a year later he joined New Democracy to be elected again in parliament the same year. In 2013 he was appointed health minister.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas is the youngest of all and he is not a parliament member. He is Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, a post in which he was elected in 2014 as an independent politician supported by rightist parties LAOS, ANEL and EPAL. Tzitzikostas has wide regional support and is leaning heavily on the right side.
Born in 1978, Tzitzikostas studied at Georgetown University and University College of London. He was elected twice in parliament with New Democracy in 2007 and 2009. In 2013 he was elected Deputy Regional Governor of Central Macedonia and soon became governor after regional governor Panagiotis Psomiadis was ousted for a criminal conviction.