Samaras looks to stem ND exodus

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras will take the podium in one of Parliament’s chambers today in the hope of reversing a negative tide that seems to be sweeping through his party at the moment, following unimpressive local election results and the departure of two conservative MPs, possibly to join the newly formed Democratic Alliance. Samaras faces the first real test of his leadership since being elected president of ND last year as there are concerns that more deputies could leave the party in the coming days to join Democratic Alliance, which was launched by conservative outcast Dora Bakoyannis on Sunday. One lawmaker, Lefteris Avgenakis, was forced out of New Democracy after approving some of the positions adopted by Bakoyannis, while the other, Giorgos Kontoyiannis, chose to leave of his own accord. Both criticized Samaras’s leadership. They have yet to join Democratic Alliance but the conservatives expect them to do so in due course. According to sources, Samaras will try to confront this exodus by openly challenging any members of his parliamentary group who disagree with his leadership to leave the party but to also resign their positions as MPs so they can be filled by other conservatives. Avgenakis and Kontoyiannis refused to do so and, if they join Democratic Alliance, it will give the new centrist party five seats in Parliament. Once the party reaches 10 seats, the deputies will be recognized as members of Democratic Alliance rather than independents. Unsurprisingly, Bakoyannis laughed off suggestions that lawmakers who leave or are ousted from ND should quit their posts. «Deputies are not sheep, they answer only to those who elected them to Parliament,» she said.