Election called for September 16

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due to meet with President Karolos Papoulias at 1 p.m. today to ask him to dissolve Parliament so Greece can hold a general election on Sunday, September 16. Following weeks of speculation, the government yesterday confirmed its intention to call early elections. «The government… invites the Greek people to clarify the future of the country by renewing their trust and giving a powerful mandate for a new four-year term,» said government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos after a day of talks between Karamanlis and his closest aides. Some advisers recommended that Karamanlis delay his decision because of the implications of the wildfire on Mount Pendeli in northern Athens but the premier decided to go ahead with his plan. Roussopoulos said New Democracy embarked on reforms when it came to power in March 2004 but that «much remains to be done.» «The people… have to choose between change and reforms or a return to the past and the misadventures that come with PASOK’s policies,» added the government spokesman. «PASOK has been pressing for elections since February 2. Since then, Mr Karamanlis has been in a state of panic and insecurity,» said PASOK spokesman Petros Efthymiou, who accused the government of holding the elections on September 16 so Parliament would not have the chance to hear the findings of an investigation into a bond scandal. Karamanlis is due to meet with his ministers at noon today before meeting with Papoulias and making an address. The premier’s first stop on the campaign trail will be in Drama on Sunday.