Election battle lines drawn

Confirming that Greece is well and truly in a pre-election period, albeit for a European parliamentary poll rather then a national one, New Democracy and PASOK continued to exchange barbs yesterday, with the government coming under further attack for the early closure of Parliament’s plenary session. The surprise decision, taken by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis late on Friday, to declare Parliament in recess and begin its summer sessions, which operate at reduced capacity, almost a month early, continued to provoke reactions yesterday. Opposition parties accused Karamanlis of taking the decision so that no new scandals could reach the House before the Euro election on June 7. If they suspect the involvement of a politician, prosecutors can only send case files to Parliament when the plenary session is sitting. «Such scheming does not befit a just state,» said PASOK leader George Papandreou during a meeting of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV). «It creates the impression that those in power have complete immunity for any offense.» The government – and the political system as a whole – came in for criticism from Dimitris Daskalopoulos, SEV’s president, who called for «a political and ethical renewal in our parties and society.» The prime minister was not able to attend, as he was on a visit to Sweden, but sent a message in which he said that his government was preparing a second set of economic reforms. Karamanlis’s absence meant that he was unable to continue his verbal clash with Papandreou. The premier has adopted a more aggressive stance in his speeches in an apparent bid to appeal to ND’s grassroots support so that a likely defeat on June 7 will not have a large margin. PASOK general secretary Yiannis Ragousis accused the prime minister of simply trying to polarize the political scene ahead of the Euro elections. «Mr Karamanlis only has one thing in mind, to exacerbate the polarization against PASOK and George Papandreou,» he said.

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