NEWS

Party leaders in PR offensive

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and PASOK leader George Papandreou attempted to outdo each other in the public relations arena yesterday as the premier made a televised address shortly after the Socialist chief held a wide-ranging press conference during which he offered the government a deal on early elections. Papandreou proposed that the ruling conservatives call a poll before or on the same day as European parliamentary elections, which are due to take place on June 7. In return, the PASOK leader said his party would support the government’s candidate for president of Greece. Karolos Papoulias’s term expires in just over a year and if PASOK votes against New Democracy’s candidate, it will lead to a general election. «We are asking for elections so that we can prevent anything worse from happening,» said Papandreou. A few hours later, Karamanlis appeared before the TV cameras to give a speech that was officially about the economy on the day that his government announced changes to taxation but which, in essence, was a riposte to Papandreou. Karamanlis began by warning voters that the effects of the global economic crisis are beginning to be felt in Greece. «The international crisis, much more intense than when it began, is now knocking at our door as well,» said the prime minister, who added that the government’s policy will be maintained around ensuring growth, reducing waste and supporting the poor. Karamanlis then went on to send a message to PASOK, saying that it was time for everyone to «get in touch with reality.» «We have to understand that there are no easy solutions and that only a steady and responsibly policy, without niceties, self-delusion and flip-flopping, can limit the consequences [of the crisis],» he said. Karamanlis did not make any direct reference to Papandreou’s offer of a deal on early elections.