Renewal in Strasbourg

Greece’s two main political parties yesterday announced a radical renewal of their candidates for the European Parliament elections on June 13. The ruling New Democracy party placed Antonis Samaras in its second slot on the ballot, marking a spectacular homecoming for the former foreign minister who brought down the last ND government in 1993 when he formed his own party. New Democracy’s list of 24 candidates, about 10 or 11 of whom are expected to be sent to the European Parliament, marked a 50 percent renewal of its presence in Strasbourg. The candidates represented people from all walks of life and from many parts of the country. But in other cases, some of the new faces will be new in Strasbourg but are not new in Athens: These include Samaras and the New Democracy cadre Ioannis Varvitsiotis, who chose not to stand for re-election to the Greek Parliament which he first entered in 1961. New Democracy’s list was presented in a news release. Numbers 3-6 were current MEPs Antonis Trakatellis, Giorgos Dimitrakopoulos, Costas Hadzidakis and Rodi Kratsa. PASOK leader George Papandreou held a news conference at the Zappeion Hall to present his party’s candidates for the European Parliament. The list appears to be dictated by his promise of renewal at all levels. He said that on a poll on PASOK’s website, «the demand for renewal» was «overwhelming.» Another surprise was the fact that the prestigious top slot on the list was filled by a 33-year-old union leader, Mary Matsouka. Matsouka represents workers at CosmOTE mobile telephony provider and on the board of the General Confederation of Greek Labor. Second on the list is Stavros Lambrinidis, director of the International Olympic Truce Center, who will serve as the PASOK group’s leader in the European Parliament. The Foreign Ministry’s former spokesman, diplomat Panayiotis Beglitis, is number six on the list. Others, in high enough positions that would allow them to be elected, are lawyer Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou; Stavros Arnaoutakis, mayor of the Cretan town of Archanes; Papandreou aide Katerina Batzeli; businesswoman and member of the board of the National Society of Paraplegics Evangelia Tzambazi; former minister Nikos Sifounakis; former general secretary for Olympic preparations Costas Kartalis (if PASOK manages to elect 9 MEPs).

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