NEWS

Karamanlis lifts veil on ND plan for 2010

Costas Karamanlis, leader of New Democracy, the main opposition party, presented his vision for a new Greece this weekend. «Greece is closing a cycle of 30 years and is entering a new era, one that will serve the citizen,» he said. By the time elections are held, by next spring at the latest, it will be nearly 30 years since democracy was restored in July 1974, after the collapse of a right-wing dictatorship. But though Karamanlis’s «Opportunity 2010» appeared to look far into the future (promising a «new form of governance» in the economy, society, public sector, culture, education and farming) it appeared to be relatively short on details. He promised that the specifics would be presented in the runup to the elections. Speaking to business leaders in Thessaloniki on the occasion of his visit to the International Trade Fair, Karamanlis said on Saturday that the pillars of New Democracy’s strategy were: culture, education and investments in human potential; Greece’s transformation into a country providing greater opportunities and a state that serves its citizens; and a new economic policy that will guarantee the maximum use of products and dynamic development all over the country to the benefit of all. He stressed that New Democracy wanted development all over the country and the well-being of all its citizens, but did not refer to numbers and percentages. «Our three axes are: the importance we place on education, the great reform, as we call it, of re-establishing the State, and a new economic policy,» Karamanlis said. He went out of his way to stress that he would ensure continuity if the conservatives win the next elections. His New Democracy is leading the ruling PASOK party in the polls, although the latest nationwide poll, published on Saturday, showed that a lead of 8.4 percent in June has been trimmed to 6.7 percent after Prime Minister Costas Simitis began to announce 2.6 billion euros’ worth of handouts in the past few weeks. In a news conference yesterday, Karamanlis charged that Simitis’s program was one of pre-election benefits. He also promised that there would be no purge. «Wherever laws have been broken the law will be applied,» he said. «A New Democracy government will not carry out ‘purges.’ When I say that we [will be] a government of all Greeks, I mean that.» He said that the people involved in Olympic preparations would be kept in their posts but that Finance Ministry’s financial crimes squad, SDOE, would be changed (he charged it was guided by political motives). Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris commented, «Mr Karamanlis told us nothing new, nothing specific, nothing tangible.»