More cracks in ND’s front line

The united front that the government presented following last month’s Cabinet reshuffle appears to be crumbling day by day, as Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias and Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos became the latest high-ranking conservative officials to fall out. Avramopoulos stirred the waters in New Democracy by appearing on a news show yesterday morning and essentially criticizing the government for not having a concerted plan to deal with the effects of the global economic crisis. Souflias, who is an experienced and trusted aide of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, showed his disdain for Avramopoulos’s comments when approached by reporters. «Mr Avramopoulos’s health is fine, ask him to give you some explanations,» said Souflias. The Health Ministry responded with a written statement in which it said that «anyone who saw and heard Mr Avramopoulos understood. There is one conclusion: In the face of the impending crisis, national understanding and consensus is needed.» The tit-for-tat statements by two of the government’s highest-profile figures – Avramopoulos is seen by some as a possible successor to Karamanlis – did nothing to discount speculation that there is a split among the conservatives, which is being fueled by the possibility of a snap election. Earlier this week, there was disagreement among ministers about the electoral law. Meanwhile in Parliament, Karamanlis defended the government’s decision to deploy riot police to stop Cretan farmers from driving their tractors from Piraeus to central Athens. He said that the government had «obligations to citizens as a whole,» after Left Coalition Synaspismos MP Alekos Alavanos said that Karamanlis should apologize to Cretan farmers for their «degrading» treatment.

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