ND's Samaras asks for 'clear mandate'

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday asked Greek voters, who are due to go to the polls in snap elections on May 6, for a «clear mandate» that will allow his party to govern without having its «hands tied,» adding that if elected ND would seek changes to Greece's austerity program. The head of the conservative party said that he would be announcing today ND's list of candidates for the elections, which will comprise 412 names for 56 constituencies, half of which are new names. "We are presenting a large selection to voters, who will be able to make their choice, as they are the ones who will bring change,» Samaras said. He also said that he has set up a special executive committee for the runup to the polls, which will be led by former defense minister Vangelis Meimarakis. Speaking of his party's goals if elected to government, Samaras said that he would seek «changes to the memorandum so that the country can achieve its targets.» Samaras was referring to the 130-billion-euro bailout deal Athens has signed with its creditors -- the European Commission, the European central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- which foresees significant cutbacks to public spending, a complete overhaul of the civil service, the liberalization of a number of professional sectors and the sale of public assets, among other measures. "This difficult task requires that our hands are not tied,» Samaras said. "We are asking for a clear mandate so that we can be a responsible government and can apply our entire program, without having to compromise with those who brought the crisis about,» the ND leader added in reference to the previous PASOK government, rejecting the likelihood of a coalition government. Recent opinion polls see rivals PASOK and New Democracy garnering less support than they would need to form a new coalition. Samaras said that he will be presenting his party's economic recovery program on Thursday at Zappeio Hall in Athens.


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