NEWS

Poll decision this week

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will return from vacations today to decide when to hold the general election, with PASOK saying it is certain that speculation about the poll being on September 16 is correct. Karamanlis was joined on Tinos yesterday by one of his closest aides, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, as discussions about the upcoming general election intensify. Sources said it is likely that the premier will call a Cabinet meeting this week and then meet with President Karolos Papoulias to ask him to dissolve Parliament. This would give him enough time to hold the election on September 16, although there is some concern within the party that this date coincides with the final of the European Basketball Championship. As the reigning champion, Greece is one of the favorites to make it to the final. PASOK, however, appears to be convinced that Karamanlis will pick September 16, and not 23 as had previously been thought. «The election will be on September 16,» said the secretary of PASOK’s parliamentary group, Dimitris Reppas. «We welcome the election as it is an excellent opportunity for the Greek people to rid itself of a bad government.» PASOK’s election committee met yesterday to discuss tactics and is due to reconvene tomorrow. The party has not said who will be its temporary spokesman while Petros Efthymiou concentrates on getting re-elected. Papandreou was the target of a stinging attack yesterday from New Democracy honorary president Costas Mitsotakis. «I like George Papandreou as a person but he is not suitable to be a leader,» said Mitsotakis. «He just reads texts that are handed to him, he is insulting, he is not in touch with most people and says ‘no’ to everything.» Mitsotakis also criticized Papandreou’s decision to make PASOK veteran Costas Laliotis his election campaign coordinator. «[Laliotis] should have been an outcast of the Greek political system but George Papandreou wants him and has dragged him out of the mothballs,» said Mitsotakis. «He will simply help [Papandreou] sink sooner.» «I do not concern myself with ghosts of the past,» said Laliotis in response.