Prime Minister Antonis Samaras presented New Democracy’s candidates for the May 25 European Parliament elections on Tuesday and unveiled the conservative party’s main strategy for the upcoming electoral contest, which will be to argue that a vote for SYRIZA will put Greece’s economy recovery at risk.
“Do we want to be represented by those who are trying to put the country in a precarious position again, who want to tear up the old bailout memorandums and lead us to new ones? No,” said Samaras. “We want to exit the memorandums step by step.”
Samaras claimed that Greece’s recent fiscal and economic achievements, such as producing primary budget and current account surpluses, as well as last week’s return to the bond markets had left SYRIZA without the necessary firepower to win at the ballot box next month.
“As we progress toward the European elections, we will talk about the things the prophets of doom cannot talk about,” he said.
New Democracy’s list of 42 candidates is a mix of politicians, lawyers, sportsmen, journalists and people from other walks of life in what appears an attempt to give the conservatives the broadest possible appeal going into the May 25 vote. MPs Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Costas Mousouroulis and MEP Rodi Kratsa are on the list but this is balanced with the inclusion of Greece’s Euro 2004-winning soccer team captain Theo Zagorakis, composer Stavros Xarchakos and Mega TV journalist Maria Spyraki. A late surprise was the inclusion of TV presenter and cycling campaigner Giorgos Amyras. A bid to include Kyriakos Velopoulos, a former MP with the ultra-nationalist LAOS, failed.
SYRIZA, however, appeared ready to meet New Democracy’s challenge. Nikos Pappas, the head of SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras’s political office, said that the leftists support the idea of the prime minister and opposition leader holding a televised debate. Pappas also dismissed the idea that SYRIZA would suffer from internal conflict, highlighted by the reopening of a debate about the euro at the party’s central committee meeting over the weekend and the failure to name all 42 candidates.
“These differences did not stop our party rising from 4 to 27 percent,” Pappas said in reference to the 2012 elections. SYRIZA’s remaining eight candidates are to be announced on Wednesday.