Party politics, not economy, prevails

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attempted yesterday to cool talk of early elections and put more focus on the economy but his effort was overtaken by news that conservative MP Yiannis Manolis was not quitting New Democracy. Speaking in Parliament, Karamanlis denied that his government is considering calling elections soon and insisted that its main priority is to solve «real problems.» The premier’s argument did not convince PASOK leader George Papandreou. «You say that you are appealing for consensus but in reality what you want are accomplices for your destructive policies,» he said. Papandreou repeated his demand for the country to go the polls straight away. Karamanlis’s attempt to shift attention to the economic crisis rather than political gossip was undone by developments within his own party when it emerged that Manolis, who had been castigated by party officials for suggesting that ND would lose the next election, would not be leaving the conservative ranks. The Argolida deputy offered his resignation in the morning, challenging the party to sack him if his behavior was deemed inappropriate. However, after a meeting with ND officials later in the day, ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said Manolis explained his actions and had not been asked to resign. Meanwhile, a row between Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias and PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos picked up pace after the deputy accused Souflias of being a figure of ridicule in Brussels for not attending any European Union ministerial meetings. Souflias, who has a hearing problem, said he does not fly on medical advice and criticized Pangalos for making an issue of personal matters. The Socialist deputy suggested it was unacceptable for a minister in such a key post not to be able to travel.

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