New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis attempted Thursday during a visit to a bus depot in Athens to broaden the appeal of his party by showing that he also wants to represent working-class Greeks.
At the same time, though, efforts to create a new party to the right of the conservatives on the political spectrum appear to be gathering pace and may affect New Democracy’s cohesion.
During his visit to the depot, where he spoke with public transport workers, Mitsotakis attempted to highlight how the current government had been damaging for the working class. He argued that its errors in the handling of the economy had triggered a rise in fare dodgers, which led to the Transport Ministry putting up the price of tickets at the beginning of this year.
“This extra burden is being be paid for largely by the least well-off Greeks,” he said. “Urban transport provides evidence of the government’s failure in a crucial sector that affects millions of citizens.”
Mitsotakis accused the government of “easy populism” and abandoning efforts to improve public transport. Sources said he intends to conduct more visits of this type to highlight daily problems faced by Greeks and present a caring face.
However, the conservative leader could soon find himself facing dissent within New Democracy as the people hoping to launch a new nationalist party say they have approached some of his MPs.
A former cabinet secretary and close aide of ex-prime minister Antonis Samaras, Panayiotis Baltakos, is playing a central role in putting together the new group. He is being aided by the leader of ultra-nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally, Giorgos Karatzaferis.
Speaking to ANT1 TV Thursday, Karatzaferis said that they have spoken to a range of people about supporting their initiative.
“We have been in contact with former ministers from the Samaras government and with New Democracy MPs who are unhappy about the approach taken by Mitsotakis,” he said.
“As much distance separates me from neoliberalism as from communism,” added Karatzaferis in criticism of Mitsotakis’s pro-market approach.