ND seeks formula to elect new leader

Former Minister of Defense Evangelos Meimarakis took it upon himself yesterday to act as middleman in negotiations between rival candidates for the leadership of New Democracy as the party tries to settle on the process that will be followed to elect its next president. Meimarakis met yesterday with two of the three most likely candidates: former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and ex-Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. The debate within ND is centering on two options: Whether the next leader should be elected by delegates at an extraordinary congress on November 7, just as Costas Karamanlis was in 1997, or if the party’s constitution should be changed so that the process is opened up to all registered party members and possibly «friends» who sign up at the last minute. According to sources, Meimarakis, who has yet to meet the third likely candidate, former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras, has suggested that either the congress or the party’s central committee should meet to appoint a secretary to oversee the process. Then, the November 7 congress could meet to approve changes to ND’s constitution, following the agreement of all the leadership candidates. The new leader could be elected immediately after this, possible even on the same day. «I have taken this initiative to lead us to the congress, which can give New Democracy new prospects,» said Meimarakis. «I have created a framework so that we can take decisions on a political, not bureaucratic basis.»