Spanish leader Rajoy in Athens for talks as parties gear up for last phase of election campaigns

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will meet with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday morning and is expected to express support for his fellow conservative leader as Greece moves into the final stretch of its election campaign, in which New Democracy will focus on the premier’s still-intact popularity.

Rajoy and Samaras are due to meet at 10.30 and will hold a joint press conference after their talks. The two men are certain to have much to discuss as both their parties have been overtaken in opinion polls by leftist opposition. The Spanish leader, though, will not take on left-wing Podemos until December, when parliamentary elections are due in his country.

The head of the People’s Party is expected to express his full public backing for Samaras, who is due to take on a more central role in New Democracy’s election campaign. Sources said that the conservative party will seek to take advantage of the fact that most opinion polls indicate voters still trust the prime minister more than opposition leader Alexis Tsipras. New Democracy hopes that it will be able to pick up votes from undecided voters and those intending to vote for centrist To Potami.

“We are very close to something better but we are also very close to something worse,” said Samaras Wednesday at a party gathering in Agrinio, central Greece. “We are very close to take-off but very close to sinking again,” added the premier as he attempted to contrast the country’s potential prospects after the January 25 elections.

New Democracy, however, is not letting up in its attacks on SYRIZA. The conservatives highlighted Tuesday that Tsipras has previously praised the leftist government in Venezuela, where shortages of basic products have caused unrest over the last few days.

SYRIZA is focusing its campaign on trying to convince voters to give it an absolute majority in the upcoming elections. “The more powerful that SYRIZA emerges on January 25, the stronger and more stable Greece will be on the 26th,” said Tsipras during a speech in Komotini, northeastern Greece.

Sources told Kathimerini that the opposition party still believes it can secure a majority but that it will need to rally undecided voters and those who are considering abstaining.