NEWS

Gov’t braces for crucial Pavlidis vote

MPs are to vote tonight on whether to indict former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis to appear before a special court which would lift his parliamentary immunity from prosecution on corruption charges and could spark early general elections. Ahead of the secret ballot, due to take place at midnight, the heads of the two main parties yesterday stepped up their war of words. Speaking from the Peloponnesian port of Nafplion, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis described main opposition PASOK as «a party without policies,» claiming that it was «not dealing with the problems of concern to citizens and constantly saying no to changes that the country needs.» Karamanlis also targeted PASOK’s leader George Papandreou personally, accusing him of «undermining our country’s interests» during visits abroad and pledging billions of euros in state funding without specifying how this support would be provided. Addressing thousands of local residents who crammed Nafplion’s main square, the premier said his administration would «continue to follow the difficult road of responsibility which will lead us safely out of the crisis.» Papandreou meanwhile, in an article posted on his party’s website, struck a similar note. «The fight against corruption is a national duty,» he said in clear reference to the Pavlidis affair and a string of other unresolved scandals including the Vatopedi land swap. The PASOK leader also hit out at the premier whom, he claimed, was largely to blame for the creation of a «climate of corruption.» «You are completely out of step with public feeling,» Papandreou said. The opposition leader concluded by appealing to Karamanlis to work with him on a joint initiative to «settle» outstanding scandals. As the two political leaders persisted in painting each other in unflattering colors, two new opinion polls showed that Socialist PASOK leads New Democracy by 3 percent, though Karamanlis is still the favorite choice for premier. The polls were carried out by MRB and RASS ahead of Euro elections scheduled for next month. According to the RASS poll, 7 out of 10 citizens want Pavlidis indicted.