Samaras defends place at helm of New Democracy

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras indicated on Thursday that he has no intention of quitting but said he would discuss the circumstances surrounding the conservative party’s election defeat on January 25, when it gained 8.5 percentage points less than SYRIZA.

“We inherited chaos and handed over a country,” Samaras told conservative MPs in his first address to his party’s parliamentary group since the elections.

Much of his speech was dedicated to defending his two-and-a-half years in office, including his decision to run a predominantly negative campaign. “Today, everyone realizes that it is one thing to scaremonger and a completely different thing to warn about the real dangers,” he said.

Samaras urged his party not to be consumed by infighting after its election defeat, suggesting that this would be exactly what New Democracy’s enemies would want.

“They are attacking me like they attacked previous leaders,” said Samaras.

He did however say that the parliamentary group would discuss the reasons behind the conservatives’ election defeat when ND lawmakers gather on February 19. A number of high-profile figures within the party have asked for an inquest to be held into how the center-right group gained 27.8 percent of the vote against the 36.3 percent gained by SYRIZA.

Samaras’s comment prompted a reaction from PASOK, which pointed out that New Democracy had been part of the government since November 2011 after a period of being vehemently opposed to the bailout program, along with other opposition parties like SYRIZA. “This created what happened on January 25,” said PASOK.