Campaign turns nasty

Three days ahead of the election, what had been described so far as a rather low-key campaign is heating up, with accusations of foul play hurled by both major political parties as they strive to rally supporters. Officials of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) yesterday accused employees of the opposition New Democracy of distributing a «defamatory» leaflet against party leader George Papandreou. Party spokeswoman Anna Diamantopoulou said PASOK received the information last Friday and had confirmed that three cars – whose registration numbers she gave and which belong to New Democracy – had distributed, via an Athens post office a leaflet ostensibly written by an unknown organization called «Citizens’ Action for the Preservation of our Heritage.» The leaflet, whose main recipients are churches, accuses Papandreou of being an atheist, an opponent of the church, defender of blasphemous art, soft drugs and euthanasia and also casts doubt on his patriotism. It reiterates positions Papandreou himself has defended publicly, with the exception of his religious beliefs, or lack of them. While the issues it raises have been discussed before, it is certain to resonate with a certain section of the electorate attached to the church but not likely to sway any Papandreou supporters away from him. «We undertook this action from a sense of deep concern for the fatherland and its symbols, Orthodoxy, Hellenism and its future. We cannot allow the favorite of globalization to govern… we should say ‘no’ to George Papandreou because it is inconceivable for a leader to have such a deep contempt for the values of our civilization,» the leaflet says. Theodoros Pangalos, head of PASOK’s campaign, has filed a suit against «unknown persons» for distributing the leaflet and has called two witnesses, residents of the Koukaki area, close to the post office. New Democracy has tried to portray the incident as a case of PASOK spying «using illegal means» on political parties. ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the whole case was a «provocation» and claimed that former PASOK minister Costas Laliotis had announced it beforehand. Laliotis, last Thursday, had told a TV station that New Democracy would use dirty tactics against Papandreou. PASOK, which trailed ND in the last legally published opinion polls two weeks ago, also tried to exploit statements by ND candidates to portray the opposition as bent on revenge and eager to replace tens of thousands in the administration if it wins the election.

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