NEWS

PM to decide on polls next month

With pressure on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis mounting as top-ranking ministers clash over the government’s strategy for tackling the impact of the global financial crisis, sources have told Kathimerini that the premier is awaiting certain anticipated developments next month before deciding upon his course of action. According to well-informed sources, Karamanlis’s decision will be influenced by the National Statistics Service’s forecast on unemployment rates, the decisions by the council of the European Union’s finance ministers (Ecofin) about whether to put Greece under supervision, the first indications regarding tourism activity as well as the findings of opinion polls regarding citizens’ voting intentions. Several high-ranking ND cadres are reportedly concerned that the trend of mass redundancies across Europe will spread to Greece. Another worry is the outlook for the tourism industry, which accounts for about one-fifth of Greece’s gross domestic product. With the impact of the financial crisis delaying early bookings, experts think it will be at least another month before any reliable forecasts can be made regarding this year’s tourism activity. Karamanlis is expected to await developments on all these fronts before deciding on whether to bite the bullet and go for early elections or to hold out for 2011, when polls are due but by which time the repercussions of the global crisis could be far worse. Top government cadres believe the PM is faced with three possible scenarios. The first is to hold early elections between mid-April and May; the second is that of «twin elections» in June alongside scheduled European Parliament polls; the third is for Karamanlis to prepare for elections in 2010, when opposition PASOK is likely to oppose renewing the mandate of President Karolos Papoulias, a step that would almost certainly lead to early elections.