The interim leader of Greece’s main opposition party stepped down on Tuesday, taking responsibility for a botched ballot to choose a new chief that had been called in response to a heavy national election defeat.
Vangelis Meimarakis, 61, was favourite to win the New Democracy leadership contest that should have taken place on Sunday.
But it was called off due to a technical glitch, adding to an already strong sense of frustration within the party following its drubbing in September’s parliamentary polls at the hands of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist Syriza party.
In a statement issued by the party, Meimarakis said he was stepping down “because there is a lot of tension among New Democracy members, and they’re very sad and hurt … and to defuse this tension I give up my post”.
He took over as interim leader in July.
Three other senior New Democracy officials were due to stand in the ballot, for which no new date has been set. The party is hoping it will produce someone who can mount a serious challenge to Tsipras.
The prime minister remains popular despite bowing to austerity policies demanded by Greece’s international creditors.