NEWS

PASOK closes gap in second round of polls

The second round of local elections ended yesterday with PASOK poised for a better showing than in last Sunday’s polls by appearing to win five of seven prefectures, while New Democracy held on to control of the Municipality of Thessaloniki. The prospect of improved results encouraged PASOK leader George Papandreou to say there would be «changes» within his party and the Socialists would go on the offensive. He said PASOK would soon be putting forward «initiatives» to resolve Greece’s education problems. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis appeared undeterred by PASOK’s gains yesterday and said his government would continue with its reforms. Official results are due to be confirmed today but with almost a third of the votes counted yesterday, conservative candidate Vassilis Papageorgopoulos appeared set to comfortably win a third term as Thessaloniki mayor. Yesterday Papageorgopoulos had gained 52.57 percent of the vote, whereas PASOK candidate Chryssa Arapoglou had received 47.43 percent, with almost all votes counted. PASOK look set for a tight victory in the other key mayoral race of the night in Patras. With virtually all votes in, Socialist candidate Andreas Fouras had gained 53.06 percent and was set to pip the former conservative mayor Evangelos Floratos who received 46.94 percent. Another 245 municipalities were also contested last night. Seven prefectures were also up for grabs, with PASOK hoping it could make up for only managing to win outright 17 regional governorships in the first round of voting against New Democracy’s 28. The conservatives held on to their stronghold of Arcadia in the Peloponnese. However, ND’s usual strong showing in Serres, northern Greece, looked as if it might not be enough since PASOK’s candidate Stefanos Fotiadis was more than 3 percent ahead of conservative hopeful Costas Papapangiotou with most votes counted. ND looked set to take over the prefecture of Hania in Crete as its candidate Grigoris Archondakis had a lead of more than 5 percent with some 92 percent of votes counted. Two victories would mean that New Democracy would control 30 prefectures, equaling its previous record. PASOK look set to close the gap from the first round as initial results suggested that it would comfortably gain control of the prefectures of Lefkada and Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea as well as Magnesia and Karditsa, central Greece.