PM to head reform drive

Apparently mired in the fallout from the Zachopoulos scandal, the government has decided that its best hope of turning public opinion around is by focusing on its planned reforms and by putting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in the front line, sources said yesterday. An opinion poll this week showed support for the government plummeting, prompting the conservative leadership to devise a strategy to rebuild trust with the voters. It has been decided that the government needs to play its strongest hand by putting Karamanlis, whose popularity has remained high, at the forefront of its policy drive. As a result, Karamanlis is expected to be the one to unveil the government’s reform plans in Parliament in a few weeks’ time. Normally, this task would be left to one of his ministers but high-ranking members of the government feel that the premier has to show his authority. Karamanlis began a three-day visit to India yesterday as he seeks to boost economic ties with the subcontinent. He is due to visit Turkey later this month. It is expected that he will unveil the pension reforms after completing his trip to Ankara. Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia continued her talks with unions yesterday as part of the lead-up to the pension reforms being set out. She met with representatives of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) but the union’s leader Yiannis Panagopoulos said afterward that he was still not sure of the government’s intentions. Panagopoulos said that GSEE would wait for the prime minister to reveal the plans before its members decided whether to take industrial action. Palli-Petralia’s proposals are unlikely to be drastically different from those of her predecessor, Vassilis Magginas, who suggested the merging of tens of pension funds.