ND, PASOK drift further apart

New Democracy and PASOK yesterday appeared as far apart as ever on the way forward for the country just 24 hours after the leaders of the two parties met in an apparent attempt to reach consensus on the policies that should be followed to mitigate the impacts of the ongoing economic crisis. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and PASOK leader George Papandreou took swipes at each other during a debate in Parliament that had the feel of a pre-election campaign, although the premier insisted that an early trip to the polls is definitely not on his agenda. «Our concern, unlike you, is to limit the impacts of the economic crisis on Greece,» he said. «It is saddening, disappointing and lamentable that petty political goals are being put above all else in the current circumstances.» Karamanlis had attempted to convince Papandreou and other party leaders during private meetings on Thursday that the government has a plan for overcoming the crisis and that it merits the support of the opposition. Papandreou explained in the most emphatic way that he was not convinced by the conservatives’ ideas. «You have not come up with answers to the country’s problems for the past five years,» he said. «Yesterday, instead of hearing answers, we saw once again that when faced with a crisis, this government has no plan. «New Democracy may be bankrupt but we will not let you bankrupt Greece,» said the PASOK leader, who suggested that the only solution was to hold elections so his party could take over. Conservative officials believe Papandreou’s stance will backfire on PASOK’s opinion poll ratings but Karamanlis responded by rejecting any possibility of early elections anyway. «This issue has become tiresome. I have made it clear we are not thinking about elections.»

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