Leader vote troubles ND

New Democracy continued to debate yesterday when a party congress should be held to elect a new leader and who should have the right to vote in such an election, despite current president Costas Karamanlis apparently insisting that he will step down on November 7 no matter what. Karamanlis came under more pressure yesterday to ensure that all ND members are given the chance to vote for the next leader, not just congress delegates. Some 4,800 delegates took part in the last party congress two years ago and under New Democracy’s constitution, they would be the ones to vote on November 7, which is when Karamanlis has proposed the meeting should be held. The former prime minister held talks yesterday with one of the leadership hopefuls, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is in favor of conservatives around Greece being given the chance to choose the party’s next president. «The proposal to allow the grass roots to elect the next leader is what the people expect,» said the former health minister. One of the other leading contenders for the job, ex-Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, backed in principle the idea of opening up the process to more people but expressed concern that the party’s rules should not be disregarded. «Any agreement to broaden the electoral body, so that the voice of grass-roots supporters can be heard, finds me in agreement,» she said before adding, «We have a constitution and it’s not a piece of scrap paper that can be changed to suit needs at any given time.» The third high-profile candidate expected to run for ND leader, former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras, also indicated that he was not troubled by which voting process would be adopted. «I accept any agreement, be it for a small or large playing field, as long as the integrity of the process is safeguarded.» One option open to the conservatives is to hold the congress on November 7 and – instead of electing a new leader – agree to change the voting process and set a new date for the election.