NEWS

Loss of another MP weakens ND

New Democracy lost its second MP in two days when Giorgos Kontoyiannis, a deputy from Ileia in the Peloponnese, resigned yesterday after blasting Antonis Samaras’s leadership of the party and prompting concerns within the conservative ranks that the newly formed Democratic Alliance is set to become a growing force. Just 24 hours after Cretan MP Lefteris Avgenakis was ousted from ND for applauding some of the positions adopted by Democratic Alliance, formed by Dora Bakoyannis, another conservative outcast, Kontoyiannis, said he was leaving the opposition and would continue as an independent. However, ND sources said the party expects both Avgenakis and Kontoyiannis to join Democratic Alliance in due course. Before stepping down, Kontoyiannis spoke out against Samaras in Parliament. «At such a difficult time for the country, ND’s leadership refuses to agree on the obvious with the government.» He accused the ND leader of creating «splits and factionalism» in his party. In an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Samaras had said that he was not willing to enter into talks with the government or any other party that supported the EU-IMF memorandum. New Democracy dismissed Kontoyiannis’s departure as part of an organized plan aimed at destabilizing the conservative party and boosting Prime Minister George Papandreou. «Mr Papandreou is looking for cheap fodder from others – they are few but they are very willing,» Samaras told ND’s five regional governors elected in the local elections earlier this month. «This has been out in the open since Monday, at a time when the voters helped put New Democracy on a positive track again at the local elections.» Kontoyiannis became the fifth ND deputy to leave the party since May and his departure is a serious blow to Samaras’s leadership and the party as a whole following a less-than-convincing performance in the local elections. If Kontoyiannis and Avgenakis do cross over to Democratic Alliance, they will be following in the footsteps of two former conservative ministers, Costas Kiltidis and Christos Markoyiannakis, who have already left ND and declared their support for Bakoyannis’s party. This would give Democratic Alliance five seats in Parliament. However, the MPs will continue to be classified as independents unless the newly formed party can increase its supporters in the House to 10, in which case Parliament’s rules allow the creation of a parliamentary group. This, in turn, leads to the party being given a parliamentary office and being allowed to hire support staff. ND sources said there are fears within the party that another five MPs could leave to join Democratic Alliance in the coming weeks.