PM drawing up his election strategy

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is expected to meet with President Karolos Papoulias shortly after the premier returns from his vacation on August 20 to ask for the dissolution of Parliament and the right to call general elections, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Karamanlis is likely to tell Papoulias, Greece’s head of state, that he feels elections would give him a new mandate to push through economic and state sector reforms. Sources close to Karamanlis said that he held a meeting last week with key figures within his Cabinet to decide the strategy he should follow. The government is keen on holding the election on September 23 but the Constitution stipulates that there must be a minimum of 26 days between when the date is announced and when the country goes to the polls. Therefore, the premier will have to move quickly to get the go-ahead from Papoulias if the election is going to be held on New Democracy’s preferred date. Another option being considered is to allow Parliament, which is due to reconvene on August 21, to sit for a week so that bills submitted last week can be passed into law before the election date is set. This would lead to Greeks voting on September 30. Meanwhile, PASOK has begun preparing its strategy for the election and sources close to the opposition party said that leader George Papandreou is due to make another visit to the northern regions of Macedonia and Thrace to drum up support as the Socialists are trailing the government by some distance in those regions according to opinion polls. The difference is less in Thessaly, Epirus and central Greece, where New Democracy is thought to have a slender lead.