New Democracy’s interim leader Evangelos Meimarakis on Thursday declared his intention to contest the conservative party’s leadership as rumors swirled that another prominent conservative, European Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, would join the race.
After days of speculation, Meimarakis finally confirmed that he would seek to secure the leadership in an election expected to take place later this year, casting himself as a committed party stalwart with an interest in ensuring the party’s stability while also seeking to boost its fortunes.
Noting that he has been with the party since its foundation more than four decades ago, Meimarakis said he had stuck by ND “during the ups and downs.” “I know where ND is lacking and how this can be corrected,” he said.
“And I will correct it, I will change it,” he said, adding that “slogans and denial” were not enough to reboot the party.
“I am not calling you to battle. I am not calling you to demolish [the party]. I am calling on you to see a new democratic beginning,” he said, playing on the party’s name.
Meimarakis joins three challengers who have already declared their intentions to contest the role: former administrative reform minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Central Macedonia Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas and former health minister Adonis Georgiadis.
Georgiadis is still in the process of collecting the minimum of 50 signatures from members of the party’s political committee.
The deadline for applications to join the contest is 6 p.m. on Friday. Rumors intensified on Thursday that Avramopoulos might declare his candidacy after sources close to the commissioner said he was to meet with party officials.
There were also reports on Thursday of several prominent ND MPs meeting with former premiers Antonis Samaras and Costas Karamanlis. The latter appears to favor Meimarakis in the upcoming race.