ECONOMY

Businesspeople welcome big win by the new government

Businesspeople declared yesterday that they expected the incoming New Democracy government to fulfill its pre-election promises to them. The declaration by representatives of various business bodies showed an optimism that the party which won such a clear-cut victory will be able to deliver on its promises to maintain fiscal stability and boost economic and business growth. New Democracy gained 45.37 percent in Sunday’s election against 40.55 for the incumbent Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), nearly complete results show. It will have 165 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. In the previous election, in April 2000, PASOK had 43.79 percent of the vote to New Democracy’s 42.74 percent, and elected 158 deputies. Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, chairman and executive president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), said he was optimistic. «A strong government came out of the election, which we believe will be able to face the big challenges in the coming years,» he said, adding that employment was the main issue and can be tackled only through more growth, job creation, education and training. «These are also the government’s priorities; thus, I believe the country’s future will be a good one,» Kyriakopoulos said. Dracoulis Fountoukakos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVEA), said the economy needed structural reforms, a business-friendly environment, higher competitiveness and modernization. He agreed with Kyriakopoulos that ND’s win was a good sign «because it can serve out its full term.» Fountoukakos was referring to the possibility of new elections in a year’s time should Parliament fail to elect a new president of the republic with the required three-fifths majority. Political analysts said PASOK was now more likely to agree to a consensus candidate rather than risk further electoral defeat. Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Panhellenic Association of Exporters, said that business activity must be aided through a national exports plan. She, cautioned, however, that the new government must not neglect social policy. Restoring confidence The Association of Supermarkets also expects a lot from the new government. Association President Petros Panteliadis said that «we expect a lot from a government of mostly young people by a party that has not governed in many years.» Above all, for Panteliadis, the government must «restore the consumer’s confidence which has fallen, especially the past few months.» Panteliadis was referring to efforts by the outgoing government, intensified last summer, to control rising prices. Many producers and retailers claimed that government intervention confuses the consumers and reduces their choices. Dimitris Armenakis, president of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), said ND’s victory was expected and said that the new government could now make difficult decisions and change things without being afraid of their political cost.