Gov?t quashes rumors of poll delay

The government on Wednesday sought to quash speculation about the possible postponement of snap polls, expected on May 6, as political parties worked on shaping their platforms for what promises to be a heated election campaign.

Spokesman Pantelis Kapsis repeated that the date for parliamentary elections would be announced next week after being grilled by reporters following statements by several politicians regarding a likely delay of snap polls until the fall.

Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga was among those who claimed on Wednesday that the elections would be put off until September.

?The scenarios and rumors concerning the postponement of elections are wrong,? Kapsis told journalists. ?The date for the elections will be announced by the end of next week.?

Kapsis added that no last-minute legislative amendments that essentially act as political favors would be allowed to pass through Parliament without the approval of the office of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, who is on Thursday to travel to Cyprus for a two-day official visit. ?Amendments cannot simply pass, even if they are fair and justifiable, without the proper parliamentary inspection and debate,? Kapsis said. As regards a batch of more than 90 such amendments that State Minister Giorgos Stavropoulos has been tasked with examining, Kapsis said the premier had deemed that ?no irrelevant amendments? should be accepted by ministers.

On the matter of plans to recapitalize Greek banks, the government spokesman said the aim was for a decision to be announced after Orthodox Easter, which falls on April 15.

Meanwhile political leaders ramped up their efforts to shape their pre-election campaigns. The leader of socialist PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos, outlined his party?s 13-point ?national strategy? to a gathering of representatives from the world of culture and the arts. Key points included the creation of a tax system which would run for at least 10 years, and the introduction of a new model to boost sluggish growth. Venizelos also envisaged the revision of the Constitution by 2013 to introduce greater accountability for MPs who are currently protected by an immunity provision.

In the camp of conservative New Democracy meanwhile, discussion reportedly focused on two issues — fears of an increase in social tensions following the suicide of a pensioner in central Athens on Wednesday and the party?s flagging lead in opinion polls.