NEWS

Listless debate changes little

The only televised debate that will take place before the June 7 Euro elections among the leaders of the five parliamentary parties passed off without any major incident or surprises and is not likely to have helped the one in 10 Greek voters who remain undecided to make up their minds. Following a format that did not allow for any actual discussion between the five leaders, six journalists put questions to the politicians on a range of subjects that were connected to European policy but whose answers invariably had to do with domestic issues. None of the leaders made any slip-ups but the carefully measured nature of their answers did not allow much room for mistakes. Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos proved the most animated, as in the debate before the general election in 2007, but his attempts to engage Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in debate were frustrated by the strict format of the process. Karamanlis chose to use the two minutes that were allocated at the end of the night for summing up an attack on PASOK, repeating the message that voters are faced with the choice between «responsibility or irresponsibility.» Karamanlis accepted that his government had made mistakes. «I feel it is my duty to adopt policies knowing that I will have to bear the political cost,» said Karamanlis. «We have great potential but we also have weaknesses and chronic failings.» The prime minister refused to accept that any members of his administration had knowingly attempted to defraud the state during the Vatopedi Monastery property exchange. PASOK leader George Papandreou, whose party is maintaining a steady lead in the opinion polls, had earlier reiterated the party’s new slogan: «Either we change or we sink.»