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22ndannualcapital

Boutaris' Mayoral Candidacy Nearly Causes Rift

The government's cohesion was again put to the test, this time over a technicality that might have barred Yannis Boutaris from running for Thessaloniki mayor.

More specifically, a clause in the Kallikratis scheme for local governance foresees that Mr Boutaris should have forsaken his position as president of the Thessaloniki Festival organization, at least eighteen months before seeking elected office. Mr Boutaris had quit his position at the organization just six months ago.

For a number of days, New Democracy local organizations in northern Greece had inundated the party offices with petitions asking for Boutaris to step down from the candidacy. These were mostly addressed to interior minister Yannis Michelakis, who was initially in agreement.

The impasse was overcome after consultations between government vice president and PASOK president Evangelos Venizelos and PM Antonis Samaras. Both pressured Mr Michelakis who eventually backed down.

An amendment placed in a bill, by alternate interior minister Leonidas Grigorakos lifted the restriction, allowing Mr Boutaris' candidacy. The amendment was given a “yes” from deputies of PASOK, DIMAR, and New Democracy.

The candidacy of Yannis Moralis in Piraeus, Giorgos Kaminis in Athens, and Yannis Boutaris in Thessaloniki show that New Democracy will lose the country's three major municipalities, causing consternation at party headquarters.