Less than a week before the second round of the Athens race, with the campaign between the two contenders going , incumbent mayor Giorgos Kaminis visited TheTOC newsroom for a spirited conversation with Elli Stai.
Mayor Kaminis began by answering about how the support of conservative ruling New Democracy party is affecting his independent candidacy. He claimed that although he welcomes any political party support for his candidacy, he remains independent and is not changing his views on any controversial issue. The issue of constructing a Mosque in the city, with which conservative candidate Aris Spiliotopoulos disagreed during the campaign, was a keynote example
Asked what he thinks of the 16% of voters who cast their ballot for the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi candidate Ilias Kasidiaris, he said that no candidate should give up on them and accused SYRIZA, whose candidate Gavriil Sakelaridis is his opponent in the second round, of not marginalizing those voters and “giving them up to Golden Dawn”.
Concerning his record as mayor in the past 3.5 years, Kaminis claimed that he did his best given the dire financial circumstances, during which the Athens municipality lost 60% of its state funding and 40% of its employees. Nevertheless, he put the city in financial order and did as much as he could for construction in the city.
Being at the very end of the campaign, Kaminis was more combative than usual against Sakelaridis, accusing the SYRIZA candidate of having either fuzzy policies, or non at all, noting his opponent of not making it clear how he would deal with strikers stopping city circulation, without enabling them to occupy the sidewalks instead of the streets.
He hopes to get more votes than those foreseen by polls. His focus was on the work he has already achieved, the lack of which is pointed at, by detractors . As he says, though, if he is voted in again, the work he started 3.5 years ago will be completed. Finally, he said that the reason he refused a debate on TheTOC that his opponent had accepted, was that there will be a debate between the two on ANT-1 TV in a couple of days and that will be enough.
In general, the incumbent had the air of the victor, and remained aloof even when questions were hard. Of course, it wasn't a grilling session, with facts and figures flying around. The mayor is right, he has tidied up the budget considerably, but a lot was through imposed layoffs, and a serious cutback in expenditures for services.