Elections may be pushed to early May

Greece is likely to hold general elections on May 6 or 13, government sources said on Tuesday, as PASOK and New Democracy faced an increased threat from new parties.

Government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis refused to be drawn during a news conference on the issue of when Greece would go to the polls. ?We do not know any specific dates at the moment,? he said. However, Kathimerini understands that the election date will be announced soon after March 25. The Constitution requires elections to be announced at least three to four weeks before they are held. So the earliest that the polls could be held is April 29, but sources said the first two Sundays of May are more likely.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is known to favor holding the polls at the end of April, while Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is due to take over as PASOK leader on Sunday, would prefer a little longer to try to gain more support for his party.

However, both parties are fighting to hold on to voters due to the creation of new groups by outcast deputies. It is expected that at least six MPs who were ejected from ND for opposing Greece?s new bailout will today announce their intention to join Independent Greeks, which was formed by former conservative lawmaker Panos Kammenos.

PASOK outcasts Louka Katseli and Haris Kastanidis are due to launch their party, likely to be called Democratic Socialism, today. Five other Socialist lawmakers who were expelled from the party will join the pair and more may follow.

The Venizelos camp is concerned that the turnout in PASOK?s leadership election on Sunday, in which he is the only candidate, will be low and that some voters will cast blank ballots. Sources said a turnout of about 100,000 people would be considered positive.

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