NEWS

Pavlidis probe could trigger snap poll

Members of Parliament are due to vote on Monday whether to investigate former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis over his alleged role in demanding bribes from a shipowner in return for awarding the firm subsidized routes. The possibility of Pavlidis being probed and his refusal to step down have refueled speculation that a snap election may be called. The ruling conservatives currently have 151 deputies. There was concern among conservative ranks yesterday that, should the Pavlidis investigation go ahead, the government will essentially be able to rely on 150 MPs. Also, should Pavlidis be ousted by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, the conservatives will only have 150 deputies in practice. It was rumored that Karamanlis is thinking of calling elections on May 10 or 17 in a bid to gain a fresh mandate. Either of these dates would mean that, in the case of a hung parliament, a second round of voting could be held to coincide with European parliamentary elections on June 7. Despite the problems that an investigation into Pavlidis’s alleged activities could cause, ND deputies have been told to vote according to their conscience, which means that PASOK’s request for a probe could be approved. Pavlidis could take the problem off Karamanlis’s hands by resigning so he could be replaced on the conservative bench but so far he has insisted that he has not done anything wrong and will not step down.