ND ousts MP for praising new party

Just 48 hours after it was formed, Dora Bakoyannis’s party, Democratic Alliance, began yesterday to impact on the Greek political landscape, as a New Democracy MP was ousted from the conservatives’ parliamentary group for publicly expressing admiration for the new centrist party. Lefteris Avgenakis, MP for Iraklio on Crete, Bakoyannis’s homeland, is likely to have his ouster from ND confirmed over the next few days after provoking party leader Antonis Samaras’s anger by saying he found some of the positions adopted by Democratic Alliance «interesting.» Samaras and his team have been dismissive of the new party, which was founded on Sunday by his former leadership rival Bakoyannis and which will attempt to attract support from middle-ground voters who feel that ND has shifted too far to the right under its new leader. «Because it is clear that there is a plan to halt ND’s rise and to support the PASOK government, Antonis Samaras will follow to the last letter the mandate he has from the people to create a rejuvenated, strong and responsible party,» said ND secretary Andreas Lykourentzos. Avgenakis, who will now sit as an independent in Parliament, launched a stinging attack on Samaras, who he accused of engaging in a «predetermined clearout operation» and of possessing an «inward-looking» political ideology. The 38-year-old deputy said that he was being pushed out of the party so Samaras could divert attention from the «disastrous personal political choices» he made in the local elections earlier this month. Finally, in a comment that seemed to indicate he might join Democratic Alliance, Avgenakis said that his ouster from the party was an insult to «ND supporters, party members and the citizens of Iraklio and Crete who had hoped for a proper regeneration, which they have already started looking for elsewhere.» If Avgenakis joins Democratic Alliance, he will not be the first former ND deputy to do so. In August, ex-Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis was expelled from the conservative party after suggesting that he should have been ND’s candidate for regional governor of Crete in the November local elections. Markoyiannakis is one of several veteran politicians who have become members of Bakoyannis’s new party.