NEWS

PASOK trips over itself, has to kill bill

The government’s rush to push through legislation in the final days before Parliament dissolves ahead of the March 7 elections reached a farcical crescendo on Wednesday night when a total of eight PASOK MPs agreed to an amendment presented by Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas allowing the construction of 5,000 holiday buildings in Halkidiki, his own constituency. An angry Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, who had not been consulted on the amendment, declared that it will be scrapped by a new one in the next few days – with Pachtas’s consent, he claimed. The amendment would have allowed the Olympic Technical construction company to build 5,000 units for tourists at Sithonia on the Halkidiki peninsula. New Democracy’s honorary chairman, Constantine Mitsotakis, called on President Costis Stephanopoulos not to sign legislation that is passed these days, describing Parliament as an «operetta.» «At some point deputies have to revolt,» he said, «because this is a serious constitutional irregularity.» In the latest nationwide poll, ruling PASOK appeared to cement the gains it had made since it emerged that Foreign Minister George Papandreou would become its new leader, without managing to overtake ND in the polls, however. The poll of 1,601 conducted on January 16-21 by Opinion and broadcast by Mega Channel yesterday found that if elections were held today, ND would get 39.9 percent, PASOK 36.9 percent, the Communist Party 5 percent, Synaspismos 2.8 percent, far-right LAOS 2 percent and the Democratic Social Movement 1.1 percent. The difference between ND and PASOK in September was 8 percent. Regarding the best candidate for prime minister, 46.3 percent picked Papandreou and 43.4 percent Karamanlis. As to which party they expect to win the elections, 46.1 percent said ND and 39 percent PASOK. Yesterday, Papandreou met with British PM Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in London, and Karamanlis welcomed former Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos back into ND’s ranks after the latter’s failed bid to lead his own party.