NEWS

Three possible scenarios for ND

As fires raged around Athens over the weekend, speculation rekindled about which of three probable scenarios the beleaguered conservative government is likely to opt for ahead of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s much-awaited economic policy speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair in the first week of September. Speaking to Kathimerini on Friday night, before the Attica fires had wreaked their worst, sources said that Karamanlis faced choosing a reshuffle of his Cabinet, a snap election or a fresh initiative to push through much-needed reforms. New Democracy sources avoided commenting on the political implications of the weekend’s devastating forest fires late yesterday. But on Friday one ND source told Kathimerini that Karamanlis was still uncertain about the best approach. «It is clear that he has not decided yet and is worried about the future of the country and the party too,» the source said. Earlier in the week, other conservative cadres remarked that Karamanlis’s recent activities and statements had given out conflicting signals. On the one hand speculation about early elections has been repeatedly dismissed; on the other hand a series of visits by the premier to public organizations smacks of pre-election campaign tactics. According to sources, Karamanlis’s closest aides have differing opinions about the advisability of calling snap elections. Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias reportedly backs the idea of early polls this fall. Others, including Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, are said to oppose the idea, believing it more prudent for the government to push through with reforms and prepare for general elections in March as planned. The main argument for early polls is the dire state of the economy which, sources say, is detailed in an informal assessment requested by Souflias and Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou. As for the possibility of a reshuffle, Karamanlis is said to have been considering it recently despite earlier reluctance. If the premier goes ahead with a revamp of his Cabinet, sources say, he is likely to do so in mid-September once the curtain has fallen on the Thessaloniki International Fair.