ND doubles lead over ‘new’ PASOK

The ballot boxes in Greece’s elections for the European Parliament yesterday appeared to have something good for all the main parties. The conservative New Democracy party, which came to power in the March 7 national elections, appeared to double the percentage by which it had beaten the socialist PASOK party in the national elections. PASOK’s leader saw the party’s core support holding, despite the radical shunting aside of the old guard since he was elected party leader in January. The anti-EU Communist Party held firm as the country’s third party, Synaspismos Left Coalition managed to hold on to one of the two seats it had held in the previous European Parliament. And, in perhaps the most significant development, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) of Giorgos Karadzaferis – an extreme right, xenophobic and racist populist – gained a seat in Strasbourg. Shortly after 11 p.m., Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos presented his ministry’s first official results. He said that with the results from 6,986 of 19,645 polling stations counted, or 35.56 percent of the vote: New Democracy had 44.61 percent; PASOK 33.98 percent; the Communist Party 8.65 percent; Synaspismos 3.83 percent and LAOS 3.83 percent. «These percentages, which are still merely indicative, correspond to 11 seats for New Democracy, nine for PASOK, two for the Communist Party, one for Synaspismos and one for LAOS,» Pavlopoulos said. Greece will have 24 seats in the European Parliament, down from 25 in the 1999 elections because of the EU’s recent enlargement. Polling companies noted that the figures might be lower for New Democracy and higher for PASOK in the end. The Opinion company, working with Mega Channel, said the final tally should be 42.6 percent for New Democracy and 34.3 percent for PASOK. In the national elections they had received 45.36 percent and 40.55 percent, respectively. Despite the wider gap, PASOK leader George Papandreou saw his party’s result as a continued mandate for change. «For PASOK, the result of the elections, just three months after the previous elections and during the government’s grace period, shows clearly that PASOK has deep roots among the Greek people, it has trust, it has hope. It shows that we can go ahead dynamically with our reformation and with a triumphant course toward the next national elections,» he said.