ND leader challenges Tsipras to TV debate

The leader of conservative New Democracy Antonis Samaras on Saturday proposed a televised debate with the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, in the week running up to general elections on June 17.

The proposal by Samaras, whose party placed first in the May 6 polls but far short of a majority, was relayed by ND spokesman Yiannis Michelakis during an interview with Vima FM radio station.

Sources in SYRIZA’s camp indicated that Tsipras would be open to a debate though it remained unclear whether this would be a head-to-head between Samaras and Tsipras or a debate involving the leaders of all the main parties or both.

Since the inconclusive May 6 polls, SYRIZA has been leading in most opinion polls though the most recent survey, carried out by polling firm Marc, showed ND to have inched ahead slightly of the leftist party which has called for a revocation of Greece’s debt deal with foreign creditors. Samaras has long proposed a renegotiation of the terms, a stance that was recently also adopted by socialist PASOK.

PASOK’s spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata on Saturday issued a statement condemning Samaras for making the overture to Tsipras after having consistently refused a similar invitation by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizels ahead of the May 6 polls.