NEWS

Caretaker leader at New Democracy as party tries to ease tensions

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New Democracy has a caretaker leader as of Tuesday as the party seeks to put Sunday’s embarrassment behind it and focus on a fresh effort to hold its leadership election, most likely on December 13.

Evangelos Meimarakis resigned as party president on Tuesday and appointed Yiannis Plakiotakis, the secretary of New Democracy’s parliamentary group, as the conservatives’ interim chief.

Plakiotakis will hold the position until a full-time leader is elected, either in the first ballot or a week later in a runoff vote.

“I served the principles and unity of the party and have always been its foot soldier,” said Meimarakis. “Since I have come under attack, often in a vulgar manner, and because tension has been created, I have decided to appoint Yiannis Plakiotakis in an effort to defuse the situation.”

Meimarakis said he would continue to campaign to be elected as party leader next month.

None of the other three candidates in the leadership race – Adonis Georgiadis, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Apostolos Tzitzikostas – objected to Plakiotakis, an MP from Crete, being given temporary control even though New Democracy’s charter indicates the party secretary should be made leader in such circumstances.

However, New Democracy’s party secretary, Andreas Papamimikos, has been at the center of the controversy surrounding the software failure on Sunday that led to the conservatives being unable to hold their leadership ballot.

Papamimikos announced on Tuesday that he was resigning his position as head of the electoral committee, which was responsible for handing the contract to organize Sunday’s vote to the IT firm that was unable to carry out the task.

Plakiotakis was applauded at Tuesday night’s meeting of New Democracy’s parliamentary group, where he appealed for calm within the party.

“At this crucial hour, reason should prevail,” he said. “I ask everyone, especially the four candidates, to calm things down so the party can get out of this dead end.”

Two previous conservative leaders, Antonis Samaras and Costas Karamanlis, were absent from Tuesday's gathering of lawmakers. There have been calls from some within the party ranks for both former prime ministers to return to frontline politics.