Election Coming, Mitsotakis Calls Back Defectors to New Democracy

FILE - New Democracy President Kyriakos Mitsotakis presents his party's plan for healthcare, Feb. 23, 2019. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – Reaching out to expand his base in an election year, major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said disgruntled former members who quit were welcome back and invited them to “come back home.”

He didn’t say if that extends to a former New Democracy stalwart who has become one of his most bitter critics, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos, who brought his tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic party into a coalition to serve the Radical Left SYRIZA of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Kammenos quit the government in objection to a deal Tsipras made to give away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia to rename The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to North Macedonia.

With Tsipras picking up rival politicians, including from New Democracy, ANEL and the To Potami (The River) which had been opposed to SYRIZA, Mitsotakis also sought new allies from other groups, saying he wants to bring in “people from other political spheres.”

“New Democracy needs them like never before, because the stakes are high,” Mitsotakis said, speaking at a campaign rally in the city of Volos for New Democracy’s candidate for regional governor of Thessaly, Costas Agorastos. “We are fighting for Greece’s soul,” he added, said Kathimerini.

He has taken his party to leads of as much as 14 percent over SYRIZA and Tsipras, who plummeted in polls after reneging on anti-austerity vows for four years and hammering workers, pensioners and the poor – those he said he would save – while letting the rich, politicians and oligarchs he promised to punish instead escape with near impunity.

Mitsotakis said that European Parliament elections on May 26 will be “the first message of defeat to the government,” ahead of general elections, which are expected in October unless snap polls are called before that.

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