NEWS

PASOK officials say February polls unlikely

PASOK’s parliamentary spokesman on Monday ruled out the prospect of early elections saying that Greece’s interim administration, led by technocrat economist Lucas Papademos, must stay in power until it has met its objectives.

?The Papademos government has to remain in place for as long as needed to complete the important tasks it has been given,? Pteros Efthymiou told Skai television on Monday.

When New Democracy, PASOK and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) agreed to enter into a coalition earlier this year, it was proposed that the transitional administration remain in power until February 19. But the slow pace of negotiations with the eurozone, the International Monetary Fund and investors holding Greek bonds have made it increasingly unlikely that Papademos will be able to keep to this timetable.

Speaking earlier on Monday, PASOK’s media spokesman Panos Beglitis said that the February 19 date for Greece’s next general election ?was not carved in stone… it was only a tentative date.?

?We must not spend time navel gazing, counting the days, the months and weeks to the election, Beglitis said.

One of the few Cabinet members personally chosen by Papademos, Minister of State Giorgos Stavropoulos, also fuelled speculation on Sunday that the premier?s administration would remain in power for longer than previously thought.

Stavropoulos said the interim government would have to negotiate a new bailout with its lenders and a haircut with its bondholders, before elections could be held. Negotiations for both of these goals are nowhere near being concluded.