MP’s jump cuts majority to one

New Democracy’s parliamentary majority was reduced to just one yesterday after MP Costas Koukodimos announced he would sit as an independent following his implication in the Zachopoulos scandal. The move was revealed in a letter Koukodimos wrote to Parliament. Sources said he did so without consulting ministers or other government officials. «Until this situation, which is causing me a great deal of pain, is concluded, I feel the need to declare myself an independent,» said the former long-jump champion. His decision means that the government now has just 151 of the 300 MPs in the House. Koukodimos indicated in his letter that he intends to follow the ruling conservatives’ line and vote with the government. Government spokesman Theo-doros Roussopoulos issued a terse response to the statement by the departing deputy. «MP Costas Koukodimos has made his decision. The government is proceeding steadfastly in implementing its program, for which it recently received a strong popular mandate,» he said. The news of Koukodimos’s decision sparked speculation that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis might consider calling fresh elections. Karamanlis is due to meet with President Karolos Papoulias today but aides insisted the purpose of the visit is to discuss the premier’s recent trip to Turkey. It is not clear what prompted Koukodimos’s move, as he has denied any part in the Zachopoulos scandal. Journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos has claimed that the MP approached him on behalf of financial crimes squad chief Spyros Kladas, who wanted his name kept out of reports about the affair involving former Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos. Meanwhile, sources indicated yesterday that Kladas’s position is under threat as Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is upset that the official has allowed himself to become embroiled in the matter.