Siemens pressure is starting to show

Greece’s two main political parties yesterday appeared to be feeling the strain of the Siemens scandal, as New Democracy was forced to deny it is considering calling snap elections, while PASOK leader George Papandreou was the target of thinly veiled comments from his former rival for the leadership, Evangelos Venizelos. «The government is not examining nor preparing for the possibility of early elections,» said ND parliamentary representative Panos Panayiotopoulos. «There is no question of early elections.» He was reacting to rumors that the Siemens scandal had prompted the ruling conservatives to consider going to the polls early. Panayiotopoulos reiterated the government’s intention not to set up a parliamentary committee to examine the alleged bribery case until the judicial investigation is complete. In the PASOK camp, Thessaloniki MP Venizelos appeared to take a swipe at Papandreou by saying that Greece needed «leaders, not just party chiefs.» He also said that Costas Simitis’s service to the party when he was leader, and the country’s prime minister, could not be struck from the record books, in a reference to Papandreou’s decision to marginalize the ex-premier for criticizing his policies.