ND rattled by local elections

Although the November local elections are more than two months away, they have already caused upheaval at New Democracy, as leader Antonis Samaras yesterday expelled former minister Christos Markoyiannakis from the party after he suggested he should have been the party’s candidate for Crete. Markoyiannakis, a public order minister and deputy interior minister with the previous conservative government, had spent much of the week criticizing the choice of Yiannis Plakiotakis, a deputy defense minister in the same administration, as ND’s candidate for the head of the regional authority on Crete. When Markoyiannakis went as far as suggesting he might stand in the November 7 election on his own and challenge Plakiotakis, Samaras decided to expel him from the party. The former minister described the reasons for his ouster as «laughable» but he has been linked with a move away from New Democracy, so he could join another expelled member, Dora Bakoyannis, in her bid to form a new party. «These machinations set the party back many years,» said Markoyiannakis. However, Samaras also attempted to show yesterday that he is thinking about the future by appointing a surprise choice to stand as ND’s candidate for the Attica region. The conservative leader announced that former basketball player and doctor Vassilis Kikilias would run in the November poll. Samaras described 36-year-old Kikilias as «untainted.» However, his lack of experience means that his candidacy for such a high-profile spot has raised eyebrows. Kikilias has served on the Athens municipal council and is currently deputy mayor with responsibility for sports.