October elections a growing likelihood

Greece appears to be heading nearer to snap polls, possibly as early as October 4, sources told Kathimerini yesterday, as the government spurned opportunities to deny that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is considering such a move. According to sources, Karamanlis is set to announce by Thursday his intentions, clearing the ground for his economic policy speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Saturday, an annual landmark in the political calendar. It is thought that if Karamanlis does opt for a snap poll, he will tell voters that he is basing his decision on the lack of consensus with the opposition parties on issues that are vital to Greece’s future. In a meeting yesterday with the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), Constantinos Michalos, Karamanlis was urged to find common ground with the opposition but the prime minister responded by saying that he had already sought consensus and that his attempts had been rebuffed by other leaders. The issue of whether Karamanlis should call elections straight away continues to divide New Democracy. Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias has been identified as one of the senior conservatives advising the premier to opt for a snap poll. «My actions, my thoughts, my ideas and my suggestions during my whole political career have always been based on what is in the national interest,» said Souflias in an ambiguous response to a question about whether he was advising Karamanlis on the election date. However, former Culture Minister Michalis Liapis seized upon this comment. «How can it serve the national interest when holding elections now would either lead to no outright winner or a PASOK government?» said Liapis.