A little more than a week after being brought back into the front line of the ruling PASOK party as joint head of its election campaign, former minister Theodoros Pangalos got off to a roaring start yesterday, hurling insults at New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis. Karamanlis, Pangalos charged, was «a dilettante» and that, before he was elected leader of the opposition party in 1997, «he was politically non-existent.» The conservatives have been enjoying a lead of up to 8 percent in opinion polls over the past year or so. Karamanlis, who has a doctorate in international law from Tufts University in the United States, has had to concentrate more on not looking as if he has the election in the bag than on forging policy as he campaigns across the country. Pangalos, who was sacked as culture minister in his last Cabinet post for being outspoken in his criticism of the government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, has taken the fight to Karamanlis in an apparent attempt to unnerve him. Pangalos famously did the same in a mayoral election in 1994 against a low-ranking New Democracy member, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who, despite being showered with insults, won the election. Speaking to a gathering of PASOK’s youth wing in Florina, northern Greece, Pangalos said that in the 22 years he was in Parliament the current leader of New Democracy had never taken the floor for some specific issue and stressed that renewal in politics could not come just because Karamanlis (who is 47) was young. «The people must know the views of those who wish to govern them,» Pangalos said. In his speech, during which he also criticized his party’s youth for speaking in political jargon, Pangalos also proposed that women should be drafted to perform national service, saying this was a way to form character. New Democracy’s spokesman, Theodoris Roussopoulos, seized on this, declaring: «Instead of Mr Pangalos making disgraceful attacks on the chairman of New Democracy, he should first make sure that he has the backing of Mr Simitis for the opinions he expresses. Is the prime minister prepared to draft women, as Mr Pangalos proposed?» PASOK General Secretary Michalis Chrysochoidis said on Oct. 30 that he would head the new central electoral committee jointly with Pangalos, 65, an Attica MP who was foreign minister from 1996-99, and culture minister in 2000.