Election talk dismissed

The conservative government attempted yesterday to quell speculation that it plans to hold early elections after comments by some ministers suggested that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis may attempt to go to the polls before March next year. Following the bonds scandal and an outburst by Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras in Parliament on Friday, when he suggested he would be willing to step down, some ministers have hinted that Karamanlis may be better off calling snap elections. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis indicated in an interview with Sunday’s Vima newspaper that a «prolonged pre-election period in an unhealthy political climate will be bad for the economy.» Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis fueled the speculation yesterday when she said that «we are in a pre-election period, regardless of when the election will take place.» Later, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos sought to dampen talk of early elections as he told journalists that the government had no plans to go to the polls early. «When the prime minister says that the elections will be held in their own time, he means at the end of our four-year term,» said Roussopoulos. New Democracy was voted into power on March 7, 2004, and Karamanlis will have to call a general election before this date next year. PASOK leader George Papandreou kept up the pressure on the ruling conservatives yesterday when he repeated calls for elections to be held as soon as possible. Roussopoulos also attempted to quash rumors that the premier was upset with the behavior of his public order minister. Polydoras had been critical of the police and suggested he was fed up with his job. «The police have a very difficult job to do and we should all respect that,» said Roussopoulos while also informing journalists that Karamanlis is due to meet with Polydoras today – a sign that he has not been left out in the cold by the prime minister after his controversial comments.