The frontrunner in the leadership race for the center-left Movement for Change (KINAL) coalition party has reached out to his former rivals in a “call for unity” ahead of Sunday’s runoff against former prime minister George Papandreou.
Euro MP Nikos Androulakis, 42, reportedly held telephone conversations on Tuesday with Pavlos Christidis, Pavlos Geroulanos and Haris Kastanidis, while sources indicated that he will also be speaking with Andreas Loverdos – who was knocked out of the race despite enjoying a lead in many public opinion polls in the runup to last Sunday’s first round of voting.
The sources said that Androulakis called on his three former rivals to encourage participation in Sunday’s runoff after an unexpectedly high turnout in the first round, with more than 270,000 votes cast in Greece and abroad. Party forces need to muster to make KINAL “a protagonist” again, Androulakis reportedly told the three former candidates for the party’s leadership.
In the meantime, officials in ruling New Democracy and main opposition SYRIZA are keeping a close eye on developments in the country’s third biggest party, with the former seeing the high voter turnout as an indication of SYRIZA’s waning appeal among center-left voters. SYRIZA, in turn, is interpreting Sunday’s election as an indication that public opinion polls cannot predict what voters will do on the day.
Androulakis led 69-year-old Papandreou – who is also a former foreign minister and son of the founder of PASOK, the biggest party in the KINAL coalition – by nine percentage points last Sunday, with more than 37% of the vote.