New Democracy leadership candidate Kyriakos Mitsotakis shrugged off accusations from within his own party Tuesday that he only represents a small portion of conservative supporters who back “neoliberal” policies.
Mitsotakis scored something of an upset by coming second in the first ballot on Sunday. He secured 28 percent of the votes, compared to 40 percent for leading candidate Evangelos Meimarakis, according to the final results confirmed late Tuesday.
The runner-up interpreted the result as a cry for “renewal” from New Democracy’s supporters and a message that the conservative party needs to “move toward the middle and center ground.”
“A lot of citizens who are not part of New Democracy’s core support voted [on Sunday],” said Mitsotakis. “This is a boon for the party.”
However, the former administrative reform minister, who advocates structural reforms, was criticized by New Democracy officials who are supporting Meimarakis as being too liberal in his views about the economy.
“Do we want a [Margaret] Thatcher-style party obsessed with the euro or a New Democracy of radical liberalism with a social face that will not just represent the economic elite?” said New Democracy MP Nikitas Kaklamanis. “If people prefer the first, they should vote for Kyriakos, but if they want the second, they should vote for Meimarakis.”
Kaklamanis’s comments echoed those of another prominent figure within the party, former minister Evripidis Stylianidis. Their comments prompted an immediate response from Mitsotakis.
“I am a center-right, liberal politician,” he said. “I have nothing to do with neoliberalism. I feel that I represent the whole of New Democracy.”