ND leadership race under way

The race for the leadership of New Democracy begins in earnest today after the deadline for candidates to declare their interest passed last night, shortly after former Culture Minister Antonis Samaras became the fourth high-profile candidate to join the running. The conservative party will now begin a process to change its constitution so that all its members can vote for the next leader. Previously only congress delegates had a say. An extraordinary congress will be held on November 7, when the changes to the process will be approved. It will take another two to three weeks for the election to be held. The four candidates vying for the top spot are Samaras, ex-Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, former Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis. The latter appears to have little chance of making an impact. Samaras entered the race just before the 8 p.m. deadline and said that he would attempt to bring back all the ND supporters that deserted the party at the last election. «I have submitted my candidacy so that we can create a modern European party that will respect the voice of its members and operate in a spirit of cooperation,» he said. Samaras said that the two basic pillars of his ideology are social liberalism and love of his country, which, he said, should form the basis of any center-right party. «We will be a party that does not forgive behavior that hurts its members, where maintaining public respectability will be a bet we have to win every day,» he said in an apparent reference to the failure by former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to stamp out corruption.