NEWS

ND bracing for defeat

An imminent defeat for the government in the June 7 European Parliament elections may be looming but the ruling conservatives yesterday tried to play down the implications any loss would have. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis presided over the first meeting of a coordinating committee of top New Democracy officials who will be drafting the government’s strategy for the upcoming elections. However, following the meeting, party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis reminded journalists that in 1999, when PASOK was in power and lost a Euro election to ND by 3 percent, no questions were raised about whether trust in the government had been lost. Sources close to the conservatives have made it known that a defeat by 3 percent or less to PASOK would be seen as somewhat of a moral victory for the government. Zagoritis’s position was backed by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, who said that people should not read too much into the results of next month’s poll. «You cannot safely conclude anything but we will consider the message that the voters give,» he said. Karamanlis did not make any comments after the meeting but is expected to announce on Sunday the candidates that will be on New Democracy’s ticket. PASOK leader George Papandreou is also due to announce on Sunday his party’s list, which is expected to be topped by the current PASOK spokesman Giorgos Papaconstantinou. The Socialists appear to be preparing for victory and MP Anna Diamantopoulou pointed out that the party will have «much greater responsibilities» if it does win. As expected, economic scandals continued to dog both parties in the buildup to the election. Yesterday they clashed over the publication of a document put together by official legal advisers to the state, which suggested that politicians from both ND and PASOK had accepted bribes from the Greek branch of German electronics giant Siemens.