ND looks to repair bond damage

New Labor Minister Vassilis Magginas has pledged to fight corruption, as the government hopes that the sacking of his predecessor Savvas Tsitouridis will ease the pressure that has affected its popularity in opinion polls. «We are in a constant head-on fight with corruption at all levels,» Magginas said on Monday when he was confirmed in his new position. «Any behavior that is illegal or damages the interests of Greek society and public money will be uncovered and turned over to the courts.» Most members of the government feel that the removal of Tsitouridis was necessary so that New Democracy could stem the flow of criticism from opposition parties over the purchase of structured bonds by pension funds. New opinion polls suggest that the affair has damaged the conservatives’ popularity. A survey by GPO for Mega TV yesterday showed that ND’s lead had narrowed from 1.7 percent to 1.1 percent over the last 15 days. Seven out of 10 respondents said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had been too slow in sacking Tsitouridis. The premier, however, remains more popular than PASOK leader George Papandreou. A survey by MRB for Alpha TV found that 64.2 percent of those polled felt Tsitouridis’s dismissal shows that the government feels guilty about its part in the bonds scandal. Almost 73 percent said that more people should be sacked.