Samaras reasserts authority

New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras used his party’s central committee meeting this weekend to re-establish his authority over the conservatives and try to focus their attention on opposing the government rather than internal squabbles. Samaras was speaking after former Foreign Minister and his main rival for the party leadership last November, Dora Bakoyannis, refused to attend the meeting, arguing that it was an inappropriate time to be discussing party issues due to the economic problems that Greece is facing. Sources said that Samaras will make it clear to Bakoyannis that she will not be given any more chances and, should she display disloyalty to the party, she will be expelled. It is thought that if Bakoyannis leaves ND and forms her own party, the number of conservative MPs that would follow her would not reach double figures. In last year’s election, Samaras gathered 50 percent of the vote while Bakoyannis garnered 40 percent. Samaras also used his moment in the spotlight on the weekend to make it clear to ND members who had been sidelined recently because they were linked to corrupt practices that there would be no way back into frontline politics for them with the center-right party. «All those who have damaged our self-respect, all those who [ex-Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis left off the candidate lists have no place in the party’s new course,» he said. «They are out, they have been cut off.» Speaking yesterday, Samaras attacked the government for mismanaging the economy, accusing PASOK of not having a specific plan for dealing with the fiscal crisis. He also argued that the Socialists had only inherited a deficit problem but had now created a public borrowing problem as well.

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