PASOK pushes agenda

Tension between the government and the opposition is set to rise further today when Prime Minister Costas Simitis presents his Cabinet with a proposal for a new electoral law. This follows the statements made by the chairman of the Capital Markets Commission in Parliament on Tuesday regarding the possibility of scrutinizing the stock market trades of members of Parliament without special legislation being passed. The conservative New Democracy party rejects any change to the electoral law, arguing that PASOK wants to introduce a system based more on simple proportional representation, which will make it harder for a winning party to establish a government on its own. New Democracy is currently leading PASOK in the polls by about 8 percent, with elections due within 10 months. But Simitis has said that, in a move aimed at clamping down on corruption, PASOK MPs will voluntarily open their bourse activity to scrutiny and he has challenged New Democracy to do the same. ND leader Costas Karamanlis has responded that a special law should be passed to force all MPs, state functionaries and other leading officials to submit to such scrutiny. Simitis seems determined to go ahead with the passage of a new electoral law, which the government says will combine stability, increase proportionality and limit pre-electoral spending. The government breathed a sigh of relief when Capital Markets Commission President Stavros Thomadakis said late on Tuesday that opening MPs’ trading accounts to scrutiny did not demand special legislation and could be done if Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis requested it. Simitis had wanted to avoid the appearance of being forced to adopt New Democracy’s demand for a new law. Also, leading Cabinet members such as Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and his predecessor Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou had warned that such intrusive legislation could have a negative effect on the stock exchange at a time when it is finally moving upward. On Monday, PASOK will start opening its MPs’ accounts, an issue Simitis will discuss with Kaklamanis and top aides tomorrow. «We are going ahead with our move asking for inspection of our trading. If Mr Karamanlis has the courage, let him do the same with his deputies,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said.

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