ND close to agreeing on leadership vote

The deadline for candidates to announce their intention to run in the New Democracy leadership race ends at 8 p.m. today but the party may not actually elect a leader until December 6. By last night, former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, ex-Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis were the only three to have declared their candidacy. It is expected that former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras will throw his hat into the ring today. After the deadline passes, ND’s organizing committee is due to meet to finalize the process for electing a new leader. Current party leader Costas Karamanlis is expected to be asked, and to accept, to stay on beyond the party congress on November 7, to allow for more time for the election to take place. Congress delegates are likely to approve a change to ND’s constitution that will allow all party members, rather than some 4,000 people at the conference, to elect the new leader. Conservative officials estimate that it would allow take two to three weeks to set up ballot boxes around the country. If there is no clear winner, then it would take another week for a runoff between the top two candidates to be organized. As a result, ND officials are set to ask Karamanlis to agree to stay as party leader until December 6, if needed. It is possible that if this is the process that is agreed upon, the deadline for candidates to step forward may be extended. Ex-Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos is said to be considering joining the race.