ND and PASOK MPs coming and going

Two former New Democracy MPs on Monday joined the party founded by conservative rebel Panos Kammenos, as PASOK?s new leader Evangelos Venizelos considered accepting the return of 13 deputies who had quit the Socialist group in the past few months.

Ex-conservatives Christos Zois and Costas Markopoulos announced they were joining Kammenos?s Independent Greeks, a newly formed right-wing party with a strong anti-bailout stance. This takes to four the number of former New Democracy MPs in the new party?s ranks. Another four deputies are expected to move across to the grouping today.

Zois accused his former party of abandoning plans to renegotiate the bailout and of being no different to PASOK.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras met with conservative deputies from southern Greece and emphasized the need for the party to rally its grassroots support and ensure that as few votes as possible will be lost to Independent Greeks, the centrist Democratic Alliance, the nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and the far-right Chrysi Avgi in the elections that are due to take place in late April or early May.

The issue of ousted MPs is also taking on some importance at PASOK, where new leader Evangelos Venizelos looks set to welcome back 13 MPs after they voted for him in Sunday?s leadership contest. However, sources within the party suggested there is some disquiet about the fact that the lawmakers were ousted for not backing the bailout but would be welcomed back by the man who negotiated it as finance minister.

Also with a view to the upcoming elections, Agriculture Minister Costas Skandalidis suggested that even if PASOK becomes a junior partner in a coalition government with ND, it might not accept Samaras as prime minister.

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