Failos Kranidiotis, a lawyer who is considered among Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s closest aides, said he would not be running as a New Democracy candidate for European Parliament in May’s elections, the second of the Premier’s closest allies to be distanced from the hierarchy.
Kranidiotis didn’t specify why, but his statement indicated the pressure that New Democracy is over in the wake of another top aide, former Cabinet Secretary Panayiotis Baltakos, quitting after he was seen on a videotape telling the spokesman for the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, Ilias Kasidiaris, that the government trumped up charges against the extremists to dismantle them and get their votes.
Kranidiotis was elected to the conservative’s political committee last summer but has critics within New Democracy and among opposition parties because of his strong nationalist views and hardline opinions on issues such as immigration.
“The agenda that our ideological opponents are trying to impose is to identify every national voice with fascism, racism, the far-right and to make our party feel guilty about issues that have nothing to do with us,” he said.
Coalition partner PASOK also reportedly raised questions about Kranidiotis’ candidacy, as did some in New Democracy as the party is trailing the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in polls going into next month’s elections for the European Parliament and Greek municipalities.
New Democracy reportedly has a strong core contingent which supports nationalist views similar to the anti-immigration stance of Golden Dawn and Samaras campaigned in 2012 on a platform that included ridding Greece of illegal immigrants.