NEWS

ND’s majority reduced to one

Greece moved a step closer to the prospect of early elections yesterday after a New Democracy MP was ousted from the party for criticizing several of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s close advisers, a move that left the ruling conservatives with a parliamentary majority of just one. Stavros Dailakis, a deputy representing Drama in northeastern Greece, was sacked after he appeared on TV and radio shows yesterday morning and suggested that Karamanlis should fire government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, the head of the prime minister’s press office, Yiannis Andrianos, and the head of his political office, Yiannis Angelou. Dailakis was already walking a tightrope after an interview with him appeared in a local newspaper over the weekend in which he criticized the government. The interview was published after Karamanlis addressed New Democracy’s central committee on Friday and challenged the rebels within his party to bring down the government if they disagreed with its policies. The MP was asked to resign, which would have allowed another ND politician to replace him in Parliament, but he refused, forcing the prime minister to live up to his pledge of getting tough on internal critics. According to sources, in a meeting with the inner cabinet Karamanlis insisted that he was determined to oust the next conservative deputy who speaks out of line, even if this means that the government would lose its majority and would have to call general elections. «Neither the country nor the government wants elections,» said Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos after the meeting. «But we are ready for every eventuality.» Even though Dailakis said that he will continue as an independent MP to support the government in Parliament, the possibility that this will happen, even before the crucial parliamentary vote on the national budget in December, became much more likely after his ousting yesterday. The future of outspoken ND deputy Petros Tatoulis was already hanging by a thread with many within the conservative party regarding him as persona non grata following his repeated attacks on members of the government and its policies.