Parties court farmers’ vote

The two major rivals in the March 7 election, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, continued their campaign over the weekend making promises to farmers. Karamanlis, on Saturday, promised to raise the farmers’ monthly pension from the present 200 euros to 330 by the year 2008. Not to be outdone, Papandreou, on the same day, proposed that farmers’ interest repayments on their debts be capped at twice the principal. He also called for 25-year loans at 3 percent interest to help farmers with debt. ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos countered that his party had brought the issue of excessive interest payments to Parliament 45 times and that Papandreou had «not once» supported relief for debtors.