Nepotism scandal snowballs

The ruling conservatives yesterday intensified calls for PASOK to sack Spyros Vougias as the main opposition party’s press spokesman struggled to prove that there had been no nepotism involved in his daughter securing a student transfer to Thessaloniki from a provincial university. The controversy, which is threatening to turn into a war of illegal transfer allegations involving several politicians, erupted after PASOK MP Sylvana Rapti revealed on Wednesday that the student son of Agriculture Minister Savvas Tsitouridis had secured a transfer from Crete to a prestigious university in Athens, on security grounds. Tsitouridis was immediately forced to resign, while the following day it emerged that the PASOK spokesman’s daughter had also secured a plum transfer in 2002, when Vougias was deputy transport minister. Vougias, an assistant professor at Thessaloniki University, claimed all his colleagues at the university – and even administrative staff – enjoyed the same perk, which he defended as perfectly legitimate. Yesterday, however, he was only able to show that Thessaloniki University allowed transfers – in addition to more common reasons such as health problems – on «special social grounds.» Vougias said that his daughter and another two young people whose parents were academic staff got transfers on this basis. But Education Minister Marietta Giannakou, who announced plans to reform the transfer system, insisted that Vougias’s daughter’s move was illegal. «The law mentions no such thing,» she said. «No Greeks are more equal than others. The State is not tailored to the needs of professors. This is completely illegal.» Giannakou also denounced as illegal a university transfer (on health grounds) by a son of PASOK MP Yiannis Diamantidis. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos – who, later in the day, denied rumors of an impending Cabinet reshuffle – attacked opposition leader George Papandreou for shielding Vougias. «I invited the opposition leader to dismiss Mr Vougias, and he has not responded. This shows that Mr Papandreou employs ethics as a slogan, and not as an applied principle.»

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