Poll rumors hound PM

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is expected to tell Parliament today that he is not considering calling a snap poll despite the likelihood that one of his MPs will quit the party after criticism of his outspoken behavior. Karamanlis will attend today’s debate on the economy with two main aims. Firstly, to attempt to stop mounting speculation that he will opt for an early election, within the next few months. Secondly, he will seek to counter critics who argue that his government has come up with only a limited response to the global economic crisis. The prime minister is likely to find it difficult to convince opposition deputies as well as a large section of the public that he is not mulling the option of a snap poll after it emerged yesterday that Argolida MP Yiannis Manolis is considering quitting the party. Manolis reacted angrily to being censured by New Democracy after suggesting in a TV interview that the conservatives will lose the next election and that this will spark a leadership contest between Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who he criticized. ND issued a statement denouncing Manolis’s comments, which, according to sources, sent the deputy into a rage. If he resigns from his post, the government’s majority of one will not be affected as another conservative deputy will take his seat. Karamanlis last year challenged any would-be rebel MPs to bring down the government if they really disagreed with his policies. Early elections were a hot topic of conversation in Parliament, both in the corridors and the debating chamber. «I hear rumors that you will be calling elections in the next few days,» said PASOK deputy Theodoros Pangalos. «Hopefully, God will have pity on Greece.» Conservative MP Panos Panagiotopoulos accused Pangalos of engaging in «wishful thinking.» «The government is not thinking about elections at this time,» he added in a comment interpreted as being deliberately vague. PASOK leader George Papandreou is today expected to directly challenge Karamanlis to call elections.

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