CULTURE

Bright stars and photo opportunities

Singing Christmas and New Year carols is the one sure way to gain entry to the presidential or prime ministerial fastness, or to the New Democracy party’s headquarters on Rigillis St. Together with the tinkling triangle and the fresh sound of children or choirs singing, the ability to inspire confidence in children counts for more than the solemn polls published in the press. Greece’s most popular person, President Costis Stephanopoulos, heard Christmas carols this year from the children of Athenian police officers (l). Following the breaking up of the November 17 terrorist organization and arrests of its alleged members, the police themselves, and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis in particular, became the personalities of the year. Stephanopoulos, smiling in a paternal fashion, posed for photographs with the children. He’s a father and grandfather himself, as son Dimitris and daughter Irini have three children between them. And there may be more to come, when his son Ilias, a lawyer, marries. As he does at this time every year, on January 1, the president will receive greetings from the military, political and spiritual leaders of the country at the presidential palace, where the newly elected mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyianni, will meet the president of New Democracy as the newly sworn in leader of the city of Athens. Outgoing Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos is still waiting for his meeting with ND leader Costas Karamanlis at Rigillis St about his return to the party to which a bright star is guiding him. Karamanlis is sharing the warmth of the festive season with his beautiful wife Natasha (c), and in the growing confidence – backed by opinion polls – that his party will win the next elections, which many people want to have in 2003. The couple heard Christmas carols together at Rigillis St, then went out shopping, choosing books and ties. Prime Minister Costas Simitis – whom the latest polls still rate as «the most suitable prime minister,» while also reporting those questioned as stating «ND will rule» – listened to Christmas carols with his wife Daphne at the Maximos Mansion. They were photographed during a visit from children and young people from PIKPA, in Voula (r). The premier and his wife then went to their country home at Aghioi Theodoroi for the holidays and will return on Sunday evening. As for the deputies, regardless of party, their bright star leads them to remain in Parliament as the fathers of the nation and to renounce the practice of any other profession, in accordance with a new law which goes into force in the new year. The only one who declared he would choose his profession over that of deputy was sexologist and sex therapist Thanos Askitis, whose weekly program on a privately owned television channel enjoys great popularity. If so, Askitis – whose name means «ascetic» – may prove to be the exception, being the only one of 300 Greek deputies who finds television more attractive than Parliament.