NEWS

Main parties plan strategy, alliances as new polls loom

With a second round of local authority elections looming on Sunday, when Greeks will also vote in a European Parliament ballot, political parties started discussing strategy and alliances on Monday, with conservative New Democracy and leftist SYRIZA expected to clash vehemently in the coming days ahead of what are expected to be tense runoffs.

ND threw its support behind the incumbents for Athens mayor and Attica regional governor after both of its candidates were knocked out in the first round. Giorgos Kaminis, an independent backed by PASOK and Democratic Left, is to face SYRIZA’s Gavriil Sakellaridis in the runoff, while the experienced Attica Governor Yiannis Sgouros, a Socialist, is to go up against the leftists’ Rena Dourou, who beat him in the first round. ND cadres expressed doubts about the likely effectiveness of the conservatives’ strategy as there have been tense exchanges between ND’s official candidates and the incumbents.

ND, whose candidates performed well in the provinces despite a poor showing in the Athens region, is also believed to be hoping for the support of center-left voters for conservative candidates who face SYRIZA challengers in key regions such as the Peloponnese and the Ionian islands. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos indirectly expressed his party’s backing for ND candidates up against SYRIZA contenders on Monday by praising ND’s support for Kaminis and Sgouros as a reaction to “the political offensive of Tsipras and SYRIZA.”

In the conservative camp, officials spent most of the day discussing tactics and alliances, with sources telling Kathimerini that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is aiming to enlist key cadres to boost ND’s electoral fortunes. Samaras is said to want former Premier Costas Karamanlis to be actively involved in this week’s election campaign. It remained unclear until late last night, however, whether Karamanlis would make a public statement to back the conservatives. Meanwhile speculation was rife on Monday about whether prominent ND cadre Dora Bakoyannis, formerly a foreign minister and mayor of Athens, would be approached to take a leading role in ND’s campaign.

ND and PASOK officials were also discussing possible cross-party alliances on a local level to boost candidates supported by both ND and the PASOK-backed Olive Tree alliance.

In the same vein, SYRIZA cadres were also debating possible alliances and overtures to groupings opposed to the memorandum, including, one source indicated, to citizens who voted for Golden Dawn.

ND’s public relations offensive was bumped up a gear on Monday with the conservatives running political broadcasts on television highlighting the government’s perceived successes and prospects – with a focus on promising sectors such as tourism and agriculture as well as potential investments – and equating the conservative-led coalition with stability. SYRIZA, for its part, appealed to voters to eject the government in protest at its austerity programs, projecting the slogan “on the 25th we vote, on the 26th they go.”

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