PM to propose change

The political climate is likely to heat up further today when Prime Minister Costas Simitis makes his expected announcements regarding the modernization of the political system. This is expected to include changes to the electoral law and to the way in which politicians’ assets are monitored. The Cabinet will meet this morning and the PASOK party’s newly elected Executive Bureau this evening. Simitis is expected to propose breaking up large electoral districts, arguing that this will make it cheaper for candidates to campaign and therefore less reliant on political funding. The prime minister would like to get the New Democracy party to enter a dialogue on the issue so that the changes could come into effect in time for the elections that must be held by next spring, when PASOK’s four-year mandate ends. The conservatives say they will not discuss any changes to the election law in the runup to the elections. Simitis yesterday met for more than two hours with Michalis Chrysochoidis, who was elected PASOK’s general secretary last Friday in a bid to revive the party’s electoral hopes. «The government and party are at a new beginning,» Chrysochoidis told reporters afterward. «The prime minister and I examined a series of initiatives for the near term. Next week… we will meet with some ministers to discuss current issues,» he said. Simitis and Chrysochoidis agreed on ways to publicize the government’s achievements and a program of government ministers’ visits around the country, sources said. They also agreed on an informal «directorate,» which ministers will join on an ad hoc basis. The first opinion poll since last week’s shake-up of PASOK’s leadership and the Cabinet suggest that the public is in favor of the renewal promised by Simitis. The telephone poll (by Metron Analysis for Antenna) found that 34.4 percent of the 800 people polled believe Chrysochoidis’s replacement of Costas Laliotis as general secretary will improve PASOK’s image, 23 percent believe it will worsen it and 24 percent that it will remain unchanged. Also, 65 percent agree with Simitis’s call for change in PASOK, while 20.5 percent oppose this. Regarding the Cabinet, 23 percent believe the reshuffle improved it, 43.2 percent say it is the same and 14.4 percent say it is worse. Laliotis’s popularity has risen from 34.4 percent in June to 44.6 percent. But so has Chrysochoidis’s: from 58.5 percent to 60.8 percent.

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