Samaras turns to party base in campaign’s final stretch

Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Wednesday sought to rally his party base and to woo undecided voters ahead of Sunday?s early elections in a fiery speech in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

Samaras, who is to repeat the show on Thursday’s at the capital?s Zappeio Hall, said he and his party wanted ?to embrace all Greeks.? He also took another jab at the rival Socialists, who he said bore ?a huge responsibility for the current situation.? But, keen not to alienate frustrated PASOK supporters, Samaras added, ?We have no problem with people who have voted for PASOK.? The conservative leader also slammed a crop of small anti-austerity parties. Voting for one of these constitutes ?a vote for political immunity and a kiss of life for PASOK,? he declared.

Samaras repeated his economic policy pledges – to gradually reduce taxes and introduce growth-boosting measures – and called again for voters to give him a ?fresh mandate? to do all this independently.

Samaras also praised former conservative premier Costas Karamanlis, who attended the rally. For his part, Karamanlis expressed his support for Samaras again. ?I am here so we can all boost the effort of ND and Samaras, of the party that we love, of the party that we believe in, of the party in which we are putting our hopes for the future,? he said.

In a related development, Panos Kammenos, the ousted ND deputy who set up the nationalist Independent Greeks which has attracted major support, appeared to leave the door open to cooperations. ?I am not open to discussing cooperation with [extreme-right party] Chrysi Avgi, PASOK or New Democracy, unless Samaras does a new about-turn,? he said. He appeared to suggest that if Samaras resumed a stance opposing austerity, he would be open to cooperation