LAOS sends ND deputies invite

The leader of the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) Giorgos Karatzaferis opened up a new conflict with the ruling New Democracy party by challenging any disgruntled conservative MPs to jump ship and join him. The LAOS leader said that his invitation was extended to any of the government’s deputies who «feel disaster is imminent and they will not be elected in the next elections.» Karatzaferis made the unprecedented proposal on the back of a European election result that saw LAOS become the only party to pick up more votes than it did in 2004, for a 7.15 percent share of the vote. The rise in support for LAOS means that it is now on the verge of being a potential coalition partner for ND should there be a hung Parliament at the next general election. Apart from appealing to conservative deputies, Karatzaferis also appealed to voters on the right. «At LAOS, we are taking part in a democratic struggle to ensure that this country does not suffer the disaster of a PASOK government again,» said the LAOS leader. «We will face up to PASOK on our own and, regardless of how much Mr Karamanlis insists on pulling them closer to power, we will push them in the opposite direction.» The emergence of LAOS has caused some consternation in the government, with some ND deputies already suggesting that the two parties should cooperate. However, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who expelled Karatzaferis from ND, insisted this week that he would not entertain this idea. The comments made yesterday by government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, who labeled Karatzaferis’s proposal an «anti-democratic» attempt to topple the government, reflected this position.