Grass roots to elect ND leader

The election of the new leader of the conservative New Democracy party following its crushing defeat in polls earlier this month is to take place on December 6 in a vote by party members rather than delegates of a forthcoming party congress, it emerged over the weekend. The four New Democracy deputies who have declared their candidacy to replace outgoing prime minister Costas Karamanlis as party leader – Dora Bakoyannis, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Antonis Samaras and Panayiotis Psomiadis – have all agreed for the vote to be held at grassroots level, the head of the organizing committee for the party’s forthcoming congress, Dimitris Sioufas, said on Saturday. Sioufas said that certain amendments would need to be made to the party charter ahead of its congress on November 7 to allow party members to vote. Citizens who are not members of ND but would like to sign up will be able to do so on the day of the vote, he added. In addition, Sioufas said, the race for party leader would be opened up to new aspirants who have until Thursday to submit their candidacy. Meanwhile, in a joint letter published in yesterday’s Kathimerini, three former ND ministers sought to put their party’s leadership race in perspective, stressing that the conservatives needed to unequivocally establish their ideological stance. In the brief letter, Nikos Dendias, Yiannis Papathanassiou and Costis Hatzidakis said that whoever is elected new president of ND «would have the support of everyone,» while noting however that «it is crucial that we meanwhile work on shaping a modern, European political framework for New Democracy.» The letter said the party should provide «substantial» opposition to the new PASOK government but that it should also «not hesitate to express its clear and public support for certain correct decisions by the government.» It added that ND should strive to be «one step ahead of PASOK on issues of transparency, institutional modernization and environmental sensitivity.»