In a speech that essentially marked the start of his campaign to become Greek prime minister, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras told his party’s political committee on Sunday that he is not aiming to form a coalition government with PASOK but wants the conservatives to govern on their own.
“I don’t want my hands to be tied,” said Samaras, adding that elections should be held “immediately” after Easter on April 15. “A single-party government is essential so the country can be saved.”
New Democracy is leading in the opinion polls but this month’s Public Issue survey for Kathimerini indicated that the conservatives only had 28 percent support, well short of what they would need for a majority.
Samaras said that a clear majority would allow him to build on the breathing space that Greece would receive as a result of the private sector involvement, or PSI, agreed last week.
“If we have a one-party government we will be able to use this time for the good of the country,” he said.
Samaras heavily criticized PASOK and, indirectly, its imminent leader Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos for serious mistakes in the handling of the economic crisis over the past two years. He also attacked the leftist parties for adopting an equivocal stance on Greece’s membership of the euro.
The ND leader also promised to crack down on illegal immigration and crime while placing more emphasis on growth.
Shortly after Samaras spoke, one of his former deputies, Panos Kammenos, launched a new party called Independent Greeks. Speaking in the central Greek town of Distomo, famous for being the site of a Second World War massacre, Kammenos heavily criticized the International Monetary Fund and European Union, Germany in particular.