ATHENS – After seeing more of his members fleeing his sinking party, far Right-Wing LAOS leader George Karatzaferis accused one of them of being a “rat” and accused New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras of reneging on a pledge to draw him into the party out of fear he would be eclipsed. Karatzaferis was briefly in a short-lived coalition government with New Democracy and the PASOK Socialists, but broke away in a dispute over austerity measures the other two parties supported.
It was too late for him, however, as a furious electorate not only repudiated New Democracy and PASOK in the stalemated May 6 elections, giving them only a combined 32 percent support, but LAOS failed to get the 3 percent threshold needed to win seats in Parliament. Two of Karatzaferis’ top deputies defected to New Democracy to stay in the shaky hybrid government, and this week the LAOS leader lost four more to the conservatives, Kyriakos Velopoulos, Thanos Plevris, Giorgos Anatolakis and Pavlos Markaris.
“We have to find what unites us and leave what divides us behind,” said Velopoulos. “He was a snitch, a rodent and a rat,” said Karatzaferis of his former deputy. With new elections set for June 17, Samaras is desperately reaching out to other parties to siphon off their members as he is locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras to win. Also this week, Samaras brought back former minister Dora Bakoyianni, whom he had ejected after she wouldn’t oppose austerity measures demanded by international lenders in return for $325 billion in two bailouts. Those came with pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that have set off two years of protests, strikes and riots.
Karatzaferis suggested that Samaras had asked the LAOS leader to join ND with all 16 of his former MPs. But Karatzaferis claimed the deal collapsed when a survey showed that Karatzaferis had an 81 percent approval rating among ND supporters. “I know that Mr. Samaras is extremely scared,” said Kartazaferis, who during the last campaign accused Samaras of stealing LAOS’ party platform and agenda. The LAOS leader also suggested that US and Israeli embassies in Greece had been concerned by his efforts to build ties with Russia and were seeking to “destroy LAOS.”
Meanwhile, Plevris, an attorney, was attacked at Athens’s main court complex on May 23. According to Skai TV, Plevris was there to defend a client, a woman who had been accused of attacking immigrants. It is thought that his attackers were protesting his role in the case. It is not clear if Plevris suffered any injuries in the attack.