NEWS

ND pins hopes on June 7 Euro vote

New Democracy officials refused to comment publicly on opinion poll results that show the government trailing PASOK by 5 percent but privately the conservatives expressed concern at the ratings and hope that things might even out in European parliamentary elections on June 7. A survey by Public Issue for Sunday’s Kathimerini suggested that PASOK had stretched its lead over ND to reach 40 percent, compared with the conservatives’ 35 percent, and within touching distance of garnering enough support to form a government on its own. These figures came as a blow to ND officials who had been hoping that the government’s recent attempts to appear more energetic in combating the economic crisis would boost the party’s popularity. However, they were buoyed by the fact that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is still considered more capable of doing a better job as premier than PASOK leader George Papandreou. The conservatives are now pinning their hopes on making a comeback on June 7, seeing European elections as an opportunity to halt PASOK’s momentum. ND officials said that if the two parties are neck and neck after the Euro elections or if PASOK only manages to emerge with a slender lead despite the dire situation in which the conservatives have found themselves, then this will be just the ammunition that the government needs to attack the opposition and show that it does not have substantial support. Papandreou was in Frankfurt yesterday meeting with European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and Vice President Lucas Papademos in a bid to prove that he has what it takes to deal with the economic crisis. He called on the government to give its response to proposals from Brussels for cuts in VAT on some goods and services.