High-ranking New Democracy officials met on Tuesday for the first time since the European Parliament and local elections to assess the result of the vote, but the meeting ended without a decision on how the conservatives will seek to convince hundreds of thousands of voters who have abandoned the party to return.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras presided over the meeting of New Democracy’s executive secretariat, where officials discussed the party’s 22.7 percent result in the May 25 elections.
Samaras said the party had to devote its energy to reconnecting with people who had voted for the party in the past but who were supporting other parties or did not vote at all. “We have to approach them systematically,” Samaras is reported to have told party officials, asking for strategy recommendations to be drawn up and the committee to reconvene soon.
Sources said, however, that opinions within the party are split on whether the conservatives should actively seek to connect with around 16 percent of voters that backed far-right Golden Dawn, ultranationalist LAOS and anti-bailout Independent Greeks or whether the focus should be on occupying more of the middle ground.
Samaras admitted that there would be a cabinet reshuffle but it is still not clear whether it will take place this week. Sources suggested that it is more likely to happen on Monday.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was in Brussels on Tuesday, from where he called on European Union leaders to “respect the result of the European elections” and allow Jean-Claude Juncker, the conservative candidate for European Commission president, to have an exploratory mandate allowing him to put his candidacy to the European Parliament and seek a majority.
Tsipras, the European Left’s candidate for the post, met with rival hopefuls Martin Schulz (Party of European Socialists), Guy Verhofstadt (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party) and Ska Keller (European Green Party) to discuss the possibility of MEPs in their groupings voting against another candidate if EU leaders decide to put someone other than Juncker forward.
The leftist politician also set out what he believes are the two dominant strategies in Europe at the moment. “One [strategy] wants small steps toward democratization of Europe,” he said. “The other is the strategy of completely breaking up the European process – [British Prime Minister] David Cameron’s strategy. It is our duty to prevent this happening.”