PM kills off election talk

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis moved yesterday to douse speculation about early elections this year by deciding to hold New Democracy’s party conference in July. The decision to hold the conference between July 6 and 8 was announced by party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis after a meeting with the premier. This means that Karamanlis will not call elections before then, as a number of procedural matters need to be resolved at the conference, which he will also use as a springboard to launch the party’s new manifesto in preparation for the next general elections, which are due by March 2008. Zagoritis told Kathimerini that Karamanlis wants to end rumors of early elections. PASOK continued its recently adopted aggressive stance yesterday as shadow economy minister Vasso Papandreou and MP Giorgos Floridis submitted a written request to Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas asking him to look into the purchase of Turkish Finansbank and P&K stockbrokers by the National Bank of Greece, the purchase of retailer Germanos by Cosmote and foreign investments made by ATEbank. PASOK has not targeted any specific politicians in connection to the deals but wants judicial authorities to investigate whether the state, which has stakes in NBG, Cosmote and ATEbank, was damaged by the purchases. The Socialists claim that the ruling conservatives have prevented the deals from becoming transparent. «The government has systematically refused to give details [about the deals] in Parliament,» said Floridis. PASOK attempted to turn up the heat on the government last week by calling for a vote of no confidence in New Democracy, which the ruling conservatives won on Sunday. «PASOK has realized that it cannot stand a dialogue so it walks out of Parliament, aggravates the political environment and lets off fireworks,» said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. «Let them do what they think is best.»