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Samaras, 'Greek euro anchor'


Greece

Samaras, 'Greek euro anchor'

Antonis Samaras presents himself as the anchor to keep Greece in the euro common currency group. He has also said he wants to renegotiate the last memorandum of bailout reform demands listed by Greece’s international creditors. The conservative New Democracy party leader has never concealed his ambition to become prime minister. Here are some of the ND promises Samaras has been dangling before Greek voters.

Corporate tax would be reduced, in a bid to attract investment, from 23 percent to 15 percent.

VAT would go from 23 percent to 19 percent, to lighten the pinch on consumers’ wallets.

Maximum income tax would be cut to 32 percent from 45 percent now.

And Samaras says he will create 150,000 private sector jobs by half way through next year.

This year’s first legislative election on 6 May was disappointing for Samaras. His party came first but with less than 19 percent of the vote, and he could not form a government. He had been reluctant to sign the second bailout memorandum, and it cost him middle ground conservative votes.

Brussels had insisted Greek leaders sign a guarantee of the memorandum. In a short-lived play of resistance, his word was good enough, Samaras argued: “I have said it before and I will say it again, I will not sign such statements.”

Samaras has a degree in economics from Harvard, and from Amherst College in Massachusetts, where his room-mate was later to become his sworn rival: George Papandreou. His position on memoranda flip-flopped. In 2010, he was against signing, and then, for the November 2011 deal, he demanded Papandreou’s resignation as his condition for joining in a coalition.

Samaras said: “Mr Papandreou won’t decide what he is going to do and he is blocking any solution. By not resigning, Mr Papandreou is blocking the constitution. I am determined to help. If he resigns, everything will take it course.”

A former minister of finance, foreign affairs and culture, the 61-year-old pro-bailout conservative played his cards carefully. After Papandreou bowed out, Samaras was against ND joining the coalition under Lukás Papademos, hoping to limit the party’s exposure ahead of the elections.

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