Debating the debates

Representatives of the two main rivals in the March 7 elections again failed to reach agreement on the terms of the television debates that PASOK leader George Papandreou and New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis will hold. In their second meeting in two days, PASOK’s Nikos Athanassakis and ND’s Theodoris Roussopoulos agreed on the principle of two televised duels but they did not reach total agreement. Roussopoulos proposed two open discussions with five themes, with journalists having the right to repeat their questions if they were not satisfied by the reply. Athanassakis said he would reply today. At the same time, the leaders of smaller parties are protesting that they have been locked out of the debate. Meanwhile, the latest biweekly telephone poll conducted for Skai radio by the VPRC company (on Feb. 16-17) found that ND is maintaining its lead over PASOK. It said that if elections were held today, ND would get 33.5 percent, PASOK 29.3 percent, the Communist Party 4.1 percent, Synaspismos 2.3 percent, DIKKI 0.9 percent and LAOS 1 percent.