NEWS

ND hits out at PASOK

As the ruling PASOK party prepared for a leadership change, which Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to set in motion this week, the leader of the opposition mocked the handover of power and called for elections to be held as soon as possible. Elections must be held by early May. Simitis is to meet with Foreign Minister George Papandreou tomorrow and on Wednesday morning will brief President Costis Stephanopoulos before chairing a joint meeting of his Cabinet and PASOK’s Executive Bureau which is expected to lead to Papandreou’s being proposed as PASOK’s new leader before elections that may be held as early as mid-March. «They are simply trying to solve their post-election problems before the elections. And this is the clear confession of their overall failure,» New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said in a speech in the Peloponnese town of Nafplion yesterday. This was his first direct comment on the impending change in PASOK. «But the government’s inadequacy has already lead to total government paralysis,» he charged. «The national interest demands clear solutions,» Karamanlis added, appropriating a slogan frequently used by Simitis. «A clear solution means elections now. Let them choose, let them proclaim their leader and let’s go to elections as soon as possible – elections in February,» he said. New Democracy spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos, in an interview with Kathimerini, presented the change in PASOK as a desperate effort to keep itself in power. «The system can see it is collapsing. What has happened to its famous ace? Isn’t the supposedly most suitable prime minister suitable any more?» Roussopoulos asked. Papandreou, who was conferring with aides in the past few days, chose to make a statement through the Ethnos newspaper yesterday. «The elections will determine the future of Greece for the next decade and will be crucial. We will wage this contest with optimism, with faith in our principles and our values,» he said. «We have a plan and a vision for the future of our country, for the future of its youth, for Greece of the 21st century.» Commenting on Karamanlis’s speech, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said, «The anxiety and confusion that possess ND cannot be hidden.» Roussopoulos shot back that Protopapas had aptly described the situation in PASOK.