NEWS

Samaras, Karamanlis rally troops

In an apparent bid to win round wavering conservative supporters and undecided voters ahead of a crucial general election on June 17, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras Friday expressed his conviction that the ?silent majority? of Greeks would rally around ND, which he described as ?a patriotic and responsible front.?

Samaras?s predecessor, former Premier Costas Karamanlis, also sought to rally grassroots party supporters, warning those planning to abstain or support one of the smaller center-right parties that their vote would serve to bolster the leftist SYRIZA, which intends to reject the country?s debt deal with its foreign creditors.

In a speech delivered at the same time as SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was presenting his party?s policy program, Samaras said he was certain that ?the majority of Greeks want economic policy to change, to stay in the euro and a stable government.?

?This silent majority of society?s creative forces will give its answer on June 17,? the ND leader said in a speech before members of the tourism sector.

Samaras, who is to visit Rhodes Saturday, expressed concern about the repercussions of the debt crisis on the crucial tourism sector, noting that hotel bookings fell by 19 percent last month.

The ND leader is to go head to head with Tsipras in a televised debate, expected a few days before the June 17 election.

In the meantime, Karamanlis issued the latest in a series of statements aimed at rallying ND supporters to ensure SYRIZA does not triumph in the poll. ?The idea that nothing worse can happen to us is wrong, especially when history has taught us that as a rule, sociopolitical crises have contributed to national calamities,? he said.

He added that the two main goals were political stability and keeping the country in the euro. ?A prerequisite for both these things is a New Democracy that is as strong as possible,? he said, adding that by abstaining or supporting smaller parties, ?we are essentially supporting SYRIZA.?