Saturday November 1, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
18o C
13o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Conservative leader front runner in Greek election

New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras delivers a speech during the main pre-election rally of the party in Athens, Greece, 3 May.

By Dina Kyriakidou

Family history weighs heavily on conservative leader Antonis Samaras as he battles to lead Greece after Sunday’s general election.

His great-grandmother, Penelope Delta, a celebrated author of patriotic children’s books, committed suicide in 1941, unable to stand the sight of German tanks rolling down the streets of Athens during World War Two.

Such heritage has sometimes propelled Samaras towards the most right-wing corner of the conservative New Democracy party he has led since 2009.

Seeing a splinter group and a far right party come out of nowhere to sharply reduce his chances of the outright victory he craves in Sunday’s poll has not helped moderate his position.

Critics say his uncompromising character and wooing of the right was a strategic mistake that will not only cost him centrist votes but possibly also the premiership.

”He has made a mistake by rallying his core voters instead of broadening his message to woo the undecided,” said a conservative party candidate who declined to be named.

”His TV ads use nationalist images,” he added, referring to images of Alexander the Great and the Byzantine church of Saint Sophia in Istanbul. ”This doesn’t make him the most attractive candidate for the undecided.” Running on a campaign ticket of tax cuts and growth boosting measures while sticking to the deficit and debt reducing targets imposed under Greece’s second bailout, Samaras, 60, is leading opinion polls with about 20-26 percent of the vote.

He seems certain to come first, but is likely to be robbed of a clear win by the Independent Greeks splinter group and the far right Golden Dawn party, pushing him into an uncomfortable coalition with Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.

The two are currently in a government led by technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos which paved the way for the election after concluding a bond swap with creditors slicing over 100 billion euros off Greece’s debt.

The last published polls showed PASOK coming second with about 14-19 percent of the vote while four smaller parties, all of them opposed to the bailout, are vying for third place with about 10 percent each.

However, an unprecedented number of undecided voters make the result impossible to predict.

Some analysts say Samaras could refuse alliances and seek another election if he polls strongly.

Samaras angered international lenders by voting against Greece’s first bailout deal and only reluctantly backing the second, worth 130 billion euros, that is now keeping the country afloat. He argues that fiscal tightening will only plunge Greece into a deeper recession.

”Greece needs a strong medicine but the one administered was the wrong one because it did not allow for any recovery,” he told Reuters in an interview earlier this year. ”What we need to do now is reduce tax rates and implement structural changes so as to speed up deficit cutting and recovery.” Some analysts say he may be falling into the same trap as the Socialists, who made generous handout pledges before the 2009 election only to be forced to take them back and make tough cuts when they realised the enormity of the debt crisis.

The scion of one of Greece’s most prestigious families, including politicians, authors and national benefactors, Samaras was once the room mate of former Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou at Boston’s Amherst College.

”He is a patriot, has been since his youth. In all things, his main yardstick is what is good for Greece, not for himself or his party,” said Dinos Arkoumakis, deputy vice chancellor of City University of London and a long-time Samaras friend.

Critics even within his own party say that although Samaras is outgoing and has good communication skills, he is politically secretive and works with a tiny cabal of trusted aides.

During the campaign, which uses music from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he has refused interviews with the foreign press and rejected a call for a TV debate from Venizelos.

He has limited his appearances to carefully staged speeches or pre-recorded chats with ordinary people, hoping to avoid errors that would cut his lead in the last leg of the race.

An American-trained economist, Samaras has held several government portfolios, including foreign affairs, since 1989. He defected from New Democracy leading to the party’s fall from power in 1993, to found his own party, Political Spring.

But he returned to the fold in 2004 when Costas Karamanlis won elections for the conservatives. He took over as party leader in late 2009, when New Democracy suffered a crushing defeat at the onset of the debt crisis.

Aides reject criticism that he is driven by personal ambition and say he believes only a single-party government can implement the deep reforms Greece needs.

”If we win outright or come close it will be a big victory and I believe we can do it,” one senior party official said. ”In any case, Samaras is the only possible prime minister. Period.” [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Friday May 4, 2012 (18:04)  
Ministry swap halts talk of reshuffle as reforms eyed
Turkish-Greek cooperation in Aegean helps stem flow of migrants
Holocaust memorial in Athens vandalized
Turkey raises tensions, insisting on keeping vessel off Cyprus
Disposable income of households fell 10.3 pct in one year
The reduction of Greek households’ disposable incomes in 2013 compared with 2012 amounted to a total of 14 billion euros, the biggest since the start of the crisis according to data released...
Banks unhappy with bad loans bill
Bank officials are expressing serious reservations about the efficiency of the government’s bill regarding nonperforming corporate loans, arguing that the target set by the Development Minis...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Spanoulis played Zeus for Olympiakos against Neptunas
Captain Vassilis Spanoulis helped Olympiakos narrowly avoid an upset on Friday as it defeated Euroleague debutant Neptunas Klaipeda 85-81 in overtime in Lithuania to preserve its perfect sta...
BASKETBALL
Obradovic watches Greens thrash his Fenerbahce
The second homecoming of former Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic, now at Fenerbahce, was not as emotional as last year’s, but it was certainly was the night of an emphatic triumph for th...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
The judiciary’s responsibility
The reform efforts over the past few years have begun to bear fruit. Greece has improved its standing in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings, rising 48 positions from 2010 to 61st place...
EDITORIAL
Findings raise eyebrows
An investigation into money transferred to foreign banks by civil servants since 2010, when Greece’s brutal debt crisis erupted, has come up with some striking findings. The checks, which we...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Spanoulis played Zeus for Olympiakos against Neptunas
2. Disposable income of households fell 10.3 pct in one year
3. Banks unhappy with bad loans bill
4. State debtor numbers grew in September
5. Reform plan among conditions
6. Ministry swap halts talk of reshuffle as reforms eyed
more news
Today
This Week
1. Archaeologists find underground vault at Amphipolis tomb
2. Man shot dead, woman injured in Vathis square attack
3. Cyprus’s Georgiades bets on economy for Irish-style bailout exit
4. Greek retail sales rise for third month in a row
5. Germany’s 10-year bonds decline before euro-area inflation data
6. New defense minister to be appointed without reshuffle
Today
This Week
1. Austria’s creative bookkeeping beats Greece on secret debts
2. End of reason, end of humanity
3. Clean bill of health for Greek banks from stress tests
4. Samaras pledges action after flash floods in Athens
5. Eurobank, National Bank restructurings eliminate capital gap
6. Athens flood damage assessed, compensation payments to begin
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.