PM wants to ride out the storm

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is not expected to make any immediate moves, according to sources, despite enduring one of the toughest weeks of his premiership, but is considering holding snap elections next spring. Karamanlis watched last week as New Democracy took a battering during parliamentary debates on the Vatopedi property scandal and then had to accept the resignation last Thursday of the government spokesman and one of his most trusted aides, Theodoros Roussopoulos. This has prompted some members of his party to call for a Cabinet reshuffle, as they believe this would help lift the negative mood surrounding ND at the moment. However, sources say that Karamanlis does not want to make the changes right now as he believes the economic crisis, which he referred to during his visit to Qatar yesterday, would cancel out any boost the government would get from a reshuffle. Karamanlis said yesterday that the extent and length of the global crisis is impossible to predict but that the government wants to adopt measures that would insulate Greek households from its worse effects. These measures would be included in the budget, which has to pass through Parliament in December and Karamanlis has reportedly told his aides that he will not carry out a reshuffle before then. However, the possibility that the prime minister will call early elections has grown considerably over the last few days. Some conservatives are urging Karamanlis to call elections as early as the beginning of March, hoping that there will be a «poll bounce» from the reshuffle that ND can take advantage of. Karamanlis seems, according to sources, to be more keen on the idea of holding elections after March 15, and possibly at the beginning of May. He will know that there is a long way to go until then and the current turbulence could lead to a sudden change of circumstances. Criticism from his party could be a key factor and outspoken MP Petros Tatoulis picked up where he left off this weekend, arguing that Karamanlis was wrong not to allow his party to attend Friday’s planned parliamentary vote on a preliminary judicial inquiry into the Vatopedi scandal.

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