NEWS

ND starts campaign, wants cuts suspended

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is due to deliver his first speech of the new election campaign on Saturday, with the conservatives advocating that more than 11 billion euros of savings due to be agreed with Greece?s lenders this summer be suspended.

Samaras is expected to step up his attack on leftist SYRIZA, with whom his party is vying for top spot in the June 17 elections. A Public Issue opinion poll published on Thursday put SYRIZA ahead on 30 percent and ND trailing in second place on 26 percent. PASOK was third with 15.5 percent. However, two surveys published on Friday showed the gap between the two parties to be even narrower.

A poll by VPRC indicated that support for SYRIZA is running at 28.5 percent, while ND garners 26 percent, with PASOK on 12.5. The Metron Analysis survey suggested that SYRIZA had the support of 27.2 percent of the electorate, ND 27 percent and PASOK 14.8.

New Democracy has sought to broaden its appeal since the May 6 polls in the hope of remaining in first place next month and securing the 50-seat bonus for the leading party. Four more members of the collapsing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) joined ND on Friday. One member of the right-wing Independent Greeks also migrated to the conservatives.

Samaras is also expected to set out on Saturday what changes he believes can be made to the terms of Greece?s EU-IMF loan deal following talks with European officials this week. The party?s vice president, Dimitris Avramopoulos, suggested that some 11.5 billion euros of measures for 2013 and 2014 should be frozen, pending further negotiations.

?The Europeans comprehend that something is going on at the moment in Greece and they have to handle this reality differently because they do not want the crisis to spread and threaten Europe,? he told Skai TV.

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