Samaras leaves infighting behind

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is lining up an attempt to draw attention away from the disputes within his own party and refocus it on the government and the economic crisis, sources said yesterday. Samaras is due to hold a news conference at Zappeio Hall in central Athens next Tuesday, during which he is expected to set out his proposals for how Greece could exit the crisis. Apart from being designed as an attempt to highlight any shortcomings in the government’s policy, Samaras wants to make it clear to voters that his party has constructive ideas on how to improve the country’s economic situation. ND attracted a lot of criticism last month when it voted against the austerity measures that Greece was forced to adopt as part of the agreement that led to the International Monetary Fund and other members of the eurozone agreeing to lend Athens 110 billion euros. Only one ND member, Dora Bakoyannis, voted for the measures and her action led to Samaras dismissing her from the conservative party. Now, with speculation rife that Bakoyannis will soon set up her own grouping, Samaras is keen to show that he has complete control of his party and that it is capable of challenging PASOK. However, he suffered another blow from within the party on Monday, when former Agricultural Development Deputy Minister Costas Kiltidis announced that he was leaving ND. Kiltidis, who has been implicated in the Vatopedi land-swap scandal but who denies any part in the exchange, said that he would sit in Parliament as an independent because he felt that personal vendettas were being played out within the party. «Mr Samaras and those who surround him have succumbed to the settling of personal scores as part of a civil war focused not on groups but specific people,» he said. «I am the victim of a clear and orchestrated daily effort to damage me and undermine my political credibility.»