Antonis Samaras has called on Greeks to give New Democracy a clear majority in the upcoming general elections, which he wants to be held immediately after Easter in mid-April. In a speech to ND’s political council on Sunday, Samaras said that he did not want to form a coalition government with PASOK, even though opinion poll indicated that this would be the most likely outcome of the upcoming vote. “I don’t want my hands to be tied,” said Samaras. “A single-party government is essential so the country can be saved.” Samaras, whose party is leading in the polls, added that the conclusion of the private sector involvement, PSI, last week – which will reduce Greek debt by about 100 billion euros – had given Greece some breathing space. “This agreement has bought us some time,” he said. “If we have a one-party government we will be able to use this time for the good of the country. “Greece does not just have need of good management, it needs major reforms. These reforms have always been conducted by strong governments in Greece and abroad.” Samaras criticized the previous PASOK government for agreeing to the terms of Greece’s first loan agreement, or memorandum, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and said that whoever leads the Socialist party at the next general elections will be tainted by being part of serious mistakes over the past two years. The conservative leader was also scathing in his criticism of the leftist parties, accusing them of adopting an equivocal stance on Greece’s membership of the euro and of creating many of Greece’s problems despite not having held power. Samaras said he would seek common ground with other parties after the elections but would prefer to govern alone.
“We want and will pursue national coordination with everyone but national coordination is one thing and a coalition is another,” he said.
“Greece will not change on the back of petty political bargaining that will sacrifice the national interest.” In what was essentially a speech launching his campaign to be prime minister, Samaras touched on a number of themes that New Democracy hopes will boost its support over the next few weeks. This included the issue of growth, which Samaras said would come through use of EU structural funds, economic reforms and an overhauled tax system. He also pledged to crack down on crime, particularly self-styled anarchists who vandalize private and public property. Samaras also repeated his long-standing position of wanting to repeal Greece’s citizenship law, which was passed in 2010 and grants Greek citizenship to some second-generation citizens.
The ND leader defended his decision to enter the current coalition government and vote for the terms of the new loan agreement, even though some within his party opposed this, by saying that Greece’s membership of the euro was at stake. He said the second memorandum was a better deal than the first since it reduces Greece’s debt through the PSI. Panos Kammenos, one of the ND deputies that voted against the new EU-IMF deal, is due to launch his new right-wing party, Independent Greeks, on Sunday.