NEWS

Elections in September

Parliament is unlikely to convene again after the summer holidays because the government is considering calling early elections, which will most probably be held on September 23, sources suggested yesterday. Although ministers dodged questions about when Greece will go to the polls, a senior government official who preferred to remain anonymous told Kathimerini that the government will announce the election date in the week beginning August 20. It is the same week that Parliament is due to reconvene after the summer recess and will mean that there will not be another parliamentary session until after the elections. New Democracy was elected to power for a four-year term on March 7, 2004, but despite the insistence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that the conservatives would stay the full course, speculation has grown that they will go to the polls early. Some commentators thought that the government’s handling of the forest fires this summer may have delayed the announcement of elections as New Democracy has come in for some heavy criticism. However, the indications are that Karamanlis has begun preparing his party for a trip to the polls. He met yesterday with Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. It is thought that planning for the upcoming election campaign was the main focus of their talks. The Finance Ministry is keen to see the election held earlier rather than later, as a lengthy pre-election period would be costly for public finances, especially as the government could be forced to tempt voters with promises of handouts. «The issue of the elections should not bother any of us,» said Alogoskoufis. «The government is implementing its policies and the elections will take place in line with the Constitution.» Meimarakis gave the equally cryptic reply that the elections would take place «in good time.» The clearest hint that the government is gearing up for elections this fall came from Transport Minister Michalis Liapis. «I hope the pre-election period will not be prolonged,» he said. «This would be in the interest of our country.»