Tens of thousands of New Democracy members are due to go to the polls Sunday to choose whether veteran Evangelos Meimarakis or former administrative reform minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis should lead the party.
Despite Meimarakis dominating in the first round of the ballot in December, when there were four candidates, many commentators believe that the leadership is still hanging in the balance going into Sunday’s election.
Mitsotakis has campaigned energetically across the country and has given numerous interviews over the last few days in a bid to boost his chances of overtaking the experienced Meimarakis, who led New Democracy between July and November after his predecessor Antonis Samaras stepped down following the referendum on the third bailout.
Speaking to Kathimerini ahead of the vote, Mitsotakis said that he envisaged a party with broad appeal that would attract those from the right, the center-right and the center but also voters who describe themselves as center-left.
“From Monday, we will build a modern party that encourages participation and which has a new structure and practices,” said Mitsotakis, who added that if he wins Sunday he will hold an extraordinary party congress in February aimed at changing New Democracy’s charter.
The former minister said that he is also willing to work with Central Macedonia Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who came third in the first ballot, in the future.
“There is no doubt that we will work closely together not only to shape the party’s policies on local government issues, which is his area of expertise, but also to shape all our policies, especially as he can give the point of view from northern Greece.”
Mitsotakis refused to be drawn on the possibility of New Democracy joining a broad coalition but made it clear that under his leadership the party would not support the pension reform plans put forward by the government.
“We will not vote for the pension reforms,” he said. “We reject the proposal we have seen so far from the Greek government because it is unfair and recessionary.”
Mitsotakis denied that he might succumb to pressure from other European conservatives in the European People’s Party (EPP) to support the pension reforms.