NEWS

PM looking for new mandate

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis admitted yesterday that his government had made mistakes during its tenure but said he was looking for a «fresh and strong mandate» from voters in next month’s elections to continue New Democracy’s reforms program. PASOK leader George Papandreou accused the ruling conservatives of «wasting» almost four years in charge of the country as the election campaign for the September 16 national poll got under way. Karamanlis yesterday asked President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve Parliament to pave the way for the general election. «We need to continue with change and reforms on the basis of fiscal stability and move ahead with greater speed and a new dynamism,» said Karamanlis in a televised address. «That is why I believe the time for elections has come. I am not claiming that everything was perfect. There were some weaknesses but we made a huge effort and took steps forward.» In response, Papandreou said that he was «certain of victory» for PASOK. He accused the government of «bestowing privileges on the few and burdens on the many.» Sources said that PASOK will focus on convincing the electorate that the government has not lived up to its reformist agenda. Just over 9.8 million Greeks will be eligible to vote on September 16. The Communist Party and Synaspismos Left Coalition will be two of the parties trying to gain some of these votes next month with the hope of being the powerbrokers in a potentially hung parliament. Synaspismos leader Alekos Alavanos acknowledged that ND is the favorite to win the election but pledged to provide a strong opposition wherever PASOK fails. «I hope this election will be a defeat for this deadlocked two-party system so a new generation can have new opportunities,» he said. Communist leader Aleka Papariga said that Greeks had an opportunity to «write a new page» in history on September 16 by weakening the standing of the two main parties.