NEWS

ND chief looking toward elections

The leader of main opposition New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, yesterday called on party cadres to work together ahead of local elections in November and stressed the importance of boosting unity and support from party members in case early general elections are called. Addressing an audience of conservative cadres following the election of a new party general secretary and executive committee members, Samaras described municipal and prefectural elections due in November as «a major battle» and declared his intention to start touring the provinces to drum up support from traditional ND voters. He also called on deputies to tour their constituencies with the same aim. «There will be no corner of Greece we will not visit, no battle we will not fight, and our intention is to win,» Samaras said. Many commentators interpreted the rousing statement as an attempt to create a pre-general election climate following reports that Prime Minister George Papandreou has threatened to call snap polls if his deputies fail to back unpopular pension reforms due to be voted through on Thursday. Samaras said that on Wednesday he would set out his proposals for extricating the country from the debt crisis without resorting to the harsh conditions set by the International Monetary Fund and Greece’s European Union partners. He also lashed out at former ND cadres «for identifying with PASOK» in their support of the government’s austerity drive – a comment believed to refer chiefly to Dora Bakoyannis, a prominent New Democracy stalwart who was ousted from the party in May after she expressed support for the measures. Bakoyannis, who has blamed Samaras for turning ND into a «navel-gazing party,» is believed to be planning the formation of her own political group.