Thumbs-up for Papoulias

Presidential nominee Karolos Papoulias is to meet with Costas Karamanlis in Athens today, as the prime minister’s decision to put the former PASOK foreign minister forward as candidate for the largely ceremonial position continued to win applause among the country’s two main parties yesterday. Papoulias, 75, arrived in the capital yesterday from his native Ioannina to the applause of residents in the central Athenian street where he has a home. The political plaudits, particularly from New Democracy and PASOK, for Papoulias’s nomination were equally enthusiastic. «All the characteristics demanded by the Constitution can be found in the form of Karolos Papoulias. He has experience, knowledge and authority. He is not an MP, so he is not bound to anything. He converses with everyone and knows how to unite,» said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. ND secretary Vangelis Meimarakis said that the announcement of Papoulias, which took many pundits by surprise, had been a success for the party since the news did not leak out before the prime minister’s address on Sunday night. Papoulias’s nomination was also welcomed by PASOK, with spokeswoman for defense Anna Diamantopoulou labeling it an «intelligent move.» The possibility of snap elections in the spring is no longer likely since it seems Papoulias will certainly gain more than the 200 out of 300 MP’s votes needed in Parliament to become president. This means that PASOK leader George Papandreou is likely to get an unfettered run at reforming his party and trying to make it electable by the next time the country goes to the polls. Newly elected Synaspismos Left Coalition leader Alekos Alavanos was less enthusiastic about Papoulias’s nomination. «It is a proposal along the lines of the close bipartisanship and the political opportunism of the two parties,» said Alavanos upon taking office yesterday. Meanwhile, a likely date for Parliament to vote on the presidency is seen as February 8, and Papoulias is likely to be sworn as the successor to Costis Stephanopoulos on March 12.