ND rejects Tsipras vs Samaras TV debate

SYRIZA accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday of running scared after New Democracy rejected an appeal from the leftists for a televised debate between the two parties’ leaders, with the conservatives accusing the opposition of simply making the request for show.

A morning meeting between government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou and SYRIZA representative Panos Skourletis resulted in the latter asking for two televised debates between Samaras and leftist leader Alexis Tsipras. According to Skourletis’s proposal, the discussions would each focus on different themes. The first would relate to economic issues and possible further measures, while the second would be about national and European issues.

Later in the day, though, New Democracy said that such a request should have been made when the all-party committee met to discuss elections details, including party funding. The panel, however, has been disbanded after completing its work head of the local elections on May 18 and 25 and the European Parliament vote on May 25.

ND spokeswoman Anna-Michel Asimakopoulou then issued a statement attacking SYRIZA for making the request and pointing out that Tsipras, who is also the European Left’s candidate for European Commission president, had failed to take part in two debates this week with rival hopefuls.

“Mr Tsipras’s party never made a request for a debate while the committee was sitting,” she said.

SYRIZA, which has repeatedly criticized Samaras for not answering questions in Parliament regularly enough, claimed the prime minister was avoiding the debate. “He is afraid of dialogue,” said the leftist party. “That is why he is absent from Parliament and why he refuses to take part in a debate with the leader of the opposition just as he did before the 2012 elections.”