Samaras to unveil growth plan, shift to less aggressive pre-election tactics

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is on Saturday to unveil a “national plan for growth and reforms” in a bid to indicate that his administration is the best bet for security and improved prospects and attract more undecided voters ahead of critical snap polls on January 25.

With just two weeks to go until elections, Samaras and senior cadres in conservative New Democracy appear to be doing everything possible to narrow leftist SYRIZA’s lead in opinion polls. According to sources, the premier’s office is shifting tactics from an all-out assault on the leftists to a more low-key effort to convince Greeks of the potential benefits of backing a ND-led government.

In presenting the growth plan, sources said, Samaras will emphasize the importance of security and of preserving a fragile return to growth. The premier is also expected to vow to rule out any further cuts to salaries and pensions, to pledge cuts to taxes, notably by scaling back the unified ENFIA property tax, and to reduce unemployment by boosting growth.

As SYRIZA’s lead over ND narrows, conservative cadres said they believe their party can still overtake the leftists, as happened ahead of elections in 2012.

ND hopes to broaden its appeal by bringing in new blood and more than half of the party’s candidates are new. Some of the big names remain: Samaras himself is to stand in Thessaloniki’s A constituency as well as his native Messinia; former Defense Minister Nikos Dendias is to stand in Corfu – as is Angela Gerekou, formerly deputy culture minister aligned with PASOK – and former conservative minister Yiannis Michelakis is also running on ND’s ticket. New names include the model Noni Dounia, who is standing in Piraeus’s A constituency.

ND’s state list – comprising candidates who are elected not by votes but according to the percentage that the party garners in the elections – is to be made public on Monday.

The list is expected to be headed by Theodoros Fortsakis, the outspoken rector of the University of Athens.

PASOK also announced its candidates on Friday, with most major names standing in Athens, including former ministers Michalis Chrysochoidis and Andreas Loverdos.

Former Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said he would not be standing.