NEWS

Karatzaferis sidles up to PASOK

Buoyed by a rise in his party?s poll ratings, the leader of Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatzaferis, on Friday was surprisingly supportive of the government but then caught PASOK off guard by suggesting that the law should be changed to restrict public protests so they do not block traffic.

Karatzaferis saw support for his nationalist party jump from 6 to 9 percent in just one month, according to a Public Issue poll published on Thursday. This rise puts LAOS just behind the Communist Party, which polled 11 percent, and comes as both PASOK and New Democracy saw their support wane.

Emboldened, the LAOS leader castigated those who criticized Prime Minister George Papandreou ahead of the eurozone leaders? summit on Friday, arguing that they were damaging national interests. ?We all have to understand that by supporting the prime minister, we support the country,? he said. ?When he is on a mission of national importance to save the country, some people have to shut their mouths.?

Karatzaferis also hit out at credit rating agency Moody?s for downgrading Greece?s sovereign debt rating, as both he and Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos accused the firm of making inaccurate judgments and having ulterior motives.

Despite the apparent bonhomie between Karatzaferis and Pangalos, the LAOS leader appeared to force the deputy prime minister into a corner when he raised the subject of creating better conditions for retail traders. Pangalos said it was hard for the government to help store owners when protesters constantly shut down the city center. Karatzaferis responded by saying that LAOS is ready to submit a proposal to Parliament on Monday that would make it illegal for any rallies of less than 10,000 people to spill onto the streets. ?I would like to believe that you will support this legislative proposal,? he told Pangalos.