ND to name new policy-making unit

The final lineup of the ruling New Democracy party’s political council is set to be decided today as speculation grows about when the next general elections are to be held. The only major change to the conservatives’ chief policy-making body is likely to be the replacement of former health minister and current Mayor of Athens Nikitas Kaklamanis. Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis is set to replace Kaklamanis in one of the 11 places on the council taken by ND deputies. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos have both said they will not stand as candidates so that they can concentrate on their ministerial duties. The political council also has seven members who are not MPs and a ballot of party members will be held to decide who will take up these positions. There will not be a vote to choose the deputies on the council, which has upset some party members. The role of party secretary will also be contested between incumbent Lefteris Zagoritis and former MP Theodoros Damianos. The reshaping of ND’s political council comes amid further speculation about the possibility that the general elections will be held this year rather than at the end of the government’s four-year term, in March. Those rumors were heightened yesterday by Alogoskoufis’s statement that the government did not have plans for any further privatizations this year, after selling off a 20 percent stake in the Postal Savings Bank and a 10.7 percent stake in OTE telecom.

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