NEWS

ND Euro poll chief scrutinized

New Democracy’s bid to reduce the gap by which it is expected to lose the upcoming European parliamentary elections was dealt a blow yesterday when Fevronia Patrianakou, the MP coordinating its campaign, became embroiled in controversy surrounding her family’s business dealings. The deputy, who is the conservatives’ spokesperson for the Euro poll campaign, was thrust into the spotlight after newspaper articles published on Sunday alleged that a plastics manufacturing company – in which her husband was a top executive and which was affiliated to another firm where the MP was a shareholder until 2007 – had been awarded a series of contracts by the City of Athens and other municipalities as a result of Patrianakou’s political connections. The company’s turnover allegedly increased from 2.1 million euros in 2000 to 47 million in 2007. Furthermore, documents published on Sunday also suggest that the company recently moved its headquarters from Greece to Cyprus to benefit from the lower tax rate of 10 percent, as opposed to Greece’s 25 percent. The latter allegation gains additional significance since one of ND’s main criticisms of PASOK in its advertising campaign ahead of the June 7 poll is that the Socialists have been trying to scare voters about taxes in Greece, among other things. Some commentators expect that as a result of the controversy over her previous business dealings, Patrianakou, whose official title is secretary for political planning, will be less prominent if not completely absent from the rest of New Democracy’s campaign. But, as of last night, there was no sign that she would withdraw, as she made a brief campaign statement at ND headquarters attacking PASOK. «PASOK has lost all touch with reality,» Patrianakou told journalists as she criticized Socialist leader George Papandreou’s plans for the economy should he become prime minister. The MP’s reaction to the allegations was to sue the Proto Thema newspaper for what she claims are libelous reports.