Bakoyannis gets the ball rolling

Dora Bakoyannis stole a march on her two main rivals for the New Demcoracy leadership yesterday by declaring her candidacy while her rivals were locked in a meeting about how the election should be organized. «I am ready to stand on the front line in the struggle to rebuild New Democracy,» said the ex-foreign minister, who pledged to lead a party that would be «open and inclusive.» Bakoyannis made her televised speech as former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras and ex-Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met with the head of the ND’s organizing committee, Dimitris Sioufas, to discuss how the next leader is to be elected. Bakoyannis snubbed the meeting and said she would be happy to go along with whatever was agreed to during the talks despite the fact that, unlike the other two candidates, she believes ND should stick to its constitution, which requires the delegates at the party congress on November 7 to elect the new leader. Avramopoulos and Samaras favor opening the process up to all ND members. However, the two men were not able to agree on a common position with Sioufas last night. It appears that intervention by former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis may be the only way that the differences between the three leading candidates could be resolved. But the current ND leader appears reluctant to get involved. Meanwhile, Prime Minister George Papandreou kept up the dizzying pace of the past few days by visiting 2004 Olympics sites in southeastern Athens yesterday. The premier promised to push ahead with plans to turn the site at Elleniko into a large urban park and said he would seek to make better use of sites in Neo Faliro, which have rarely been used since the Games.