Crisis prompts election rethink

The possibility that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will call elections as early as next spring was played down yesterday as a new poll indicated that seven in 10 Greeks are unhappy with the way the ruling conservatives have handled their plans to support banks in the midst of the financial crisis. It had been heavily rumored that the premier was warming to the idea of going to the polls next April or May in a bid to obtain a fresh mandate for a third term in office. However, both off-the-record and public statements by government officials yesterday suggest that this is not now likely, especially as the full impact of the global crisis may not yet have hit Greece. «I don’t see the possibility of early elections,» Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias, one of the New Democracy stalwarts, told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. «If elections are going to take place, it may be in 2010 if there is no agreement over who will be the next president of Greece,» said Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis in reference to whether PASOK will support the choice made by the government. It had been thought that Karamanlis intended to see the government’s budget passed through Parliament next month before reshuffling his cabinet and calling an election. However, government sources now say that there is no way he can consider a snap poll while the majority of Greeks indicate that they are unhappy with the way the government is handling the financial crisis. According to the results of a new survey carried out by Public Issue on behalf of Kathimerini and Skai TV and Radio, 73 percent of voters appear to be dissatisfied with the way the government has put together its 28-billion-euro support package for Greek banks. Also, 46 percent believe the government should not be providing financial support to the banks, compared to 42 percent who think it is a wise move. Nine in 10 of those questioned want the government to exercise greater control over the banks, while seven in 10 believe the lenders have not adopted a responsible stance in the face of the crisis.