Poll speculation unsettles ND

Concern is growing among some New Democracy deputies that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will lead the party to certain defeat if he chooses to hold a snap general election in October as advised by some of his aides. Karamanlis has yet to decide on whether he will try to trump PASOK, which intends to force a national poll next March, by calling elections before then. The fact that he remains undecided is unsettling a number of conservative politicians, many of whom think that an October date would give ND little chance of winning. Sources said that ministers such as Aris Spiliotopoulos (Education) and Costas Markopoulos (Tourism) feel that Karamanlis is being wrongly advised by Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and Yiannis Loulis, a political analyst and communications adviser to the prime minister, who appear to be recommending that it would be preferable for the government to head to elections sooner rather than later. Sources said that the differing views on what Karamanlis should do next are causing serious rifts between some members of the ruling party. Former Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis gave an indication of the level of opposition that some conservatives have toward the idea of holding elections in October. «If there are some people that are recommending we go to the polls, they simply want to finish off New Democracy and Karamanlis,» he said. It was also suggested that former Culture Minister Michalis Liapis, who is also the prime minister’s cousin, told a newspaper in an interview to be published on Sunday that calling elections in the fall would be tantamount to «euthanasia» for the government. However, sources said that Loulis and Souflias have told the premier that waiting for elections to come around next March will not increase ND’s chances of winning but that because of the poor state of the economy and the conservatives’ one-seat majority in Parliament the party’s prospects will actually diminish the longer he puts off setting a date.