NEWS

ND plays down talk of snap poll

With last week’s much anticipated reshuffle finally out of the way, attention on the Greek political scene is shifting toward the possibility of early elections, though the government sought to vehemently deny this likelihood yesterday. New Democracy’s opinion poll boost, which came in the wake of the ministerial changes made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, has encouraged some conservative politicians to believe that snap elections would provide the ruling party with a better chance of being re-elected. But Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias, who is one of the most senior members of the Cabinet and has become a close aide of Karamanlis, sought to put an end to this speculation. «There is no discussion about early elections,» he said. «I do not understand why this has become a subject of debate. I am at a loss to understand where this has come from.» Sources said that all government ministers will be following this line as persistent talk of early elections will eliminate any element of surprise that Karamanlis might have in calling a snap poll. The prime minister also appears to be worried about the impact that the constant speculation has on the country’s economy. «We are working on a long-term plan,» said Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. «Early elections can only take place in 2010 if PASOK does not agree with the choice for president of the Republic.» Under the Greek Constitution, at least two-thirds of MPs must support the government’s choice for president in the first two rounds of voting. Otherwise, if the candidate does not get three-fifths of deputies’ votes, general elections must be called. It has been suggested that if the government supports former PASOK minister Karolos Papoulias for a second term as president, the Socialists may withdraw their backing in order to force elections.