NEWS

ND picks leader as polarization intensifies

nd-picks-leader-as-polarization-intensifies

Almost a month after a botched leadership election, conservative voters are returning to the ballot box on Sunday to pick a new head for the main opposition New Democracy party amid growing polarization between the four contenders.

Efforts by Yiannis Plakiotakis, ND’s interim chairman, and Yiannis Tragakis, the new head of the party’s central election committee, to arrange a joint appearance of the four in a show of unity ahead of the vote fell through.

Evangelos Meimarakis, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Adonis Georgiadis are seen as representing competing factions within the conservative party. Meimarakis appears to enjoy the backing of former prime minister Costas Karamanlis while supporters of Antonis Samaras, also an ex-premier, appear split between Tzitzikostas, the conservative governor of central Macedonia, and former minister Georgiadis. ND’s minority liberal wing has rallied behind Mitsotakis, also an ex-minister.

Meanwhile Mitsotakis Friday reacted to media reports that Karamanlis has had a series of contacts with Greece’s leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – speculation which, critics say, is destabilizing ND as it seeks to find its feet.

“ND does not need and should not have a totem. Every ex-premier has something to offer the nation, but that’s it,” he said.

Sources close to Karamanlis Friday denied reports that the two have established a so-called “open channel of communication.” Karamanlis only indirectly contacted Tsipras once, ahead of the crucial eurozone summit this summer, to urge him to take all the necessary decisions that would avert a Greek euro exit, the same sources said.