Thirteen days ahead of the runoff vote for the New Democracy leadership, the two candidates that came out on top in the first round, Evangelos Meimarakis and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, are readjusting their strategy in a bid to lure swing voters.
Only people who took part in the first round, about 400,000, can cast a ballot in the January 10 vote. This means that Meimarakis, comfortable winner of the first round, and Mitsotakis will vie for that 31 percent that went to Apostolos Tzitzikostas and Adonis Georgiadis who were knocked out of the race.
Georgiadis and – more tacitly – Tzitzikostas have both thrown their weight behind Mitsotakis. However, analysts say Meimarakis can expect to draw at least half of the voters who in the first round backed the central Macedonia governor given that both politicians belong to the pro-Karamanlis faction within ND.
Meimarakis, a former House speaker who served as interim ND chairman following the departure of Antonis Samaras, has sought to deconstruct the former administrative reform minister by dubbing him as a “neoliberal” – which is purportedly incompatible with the party’s political religion. Meimarakis said his aim is “to build a ND with a human face, a social and European character as dictated by the legacy of [the late statesman] Constantine Karamanlis.”
In a radio interview before Christmas, Mitsotakis hit back at the criticism. “I would have thought that such ‘neoliberalism’ talk would come from SYRIZA, not New Democracy. Such distinctions belong to 20th century politics,” he said.
For his part, the younger Mitsotakis has played the card of renewal. “I respect Mr Meimarakis; however, I still believe that to vote [for him] is to vote for stagnation,” said Mitsotakis, adding that results in the first round showed that “60 percent of the people voted for change and renewal.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with Proto Thema newspaper, Mitsotakis said that should he become leader of ND, he would request the formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the “huge damage wrecked upon the banking system and the public sector by the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition through the bank recapitalization.”