PM appeals to the young and disenchanted

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday served up more of the straight talk that earned him plaudits following his speech at the launch of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) last weekend, appealing to young New Democracy supporters in Athens to vote for ND next month «in the national interest» even if the party has disappointed them in the past. «We may have hurt them. We have made mistakes. But the national interest must come first,» Karamanlis told a gathering of ND’s youth arm in Aegaleo, western Athens. The premier appealed directly to ND supporters who abstained from voting in European elections last June or who dropped a blank ballot, to support the conservatives in snap polls on October 4, stressing that the government has a plan for bolstering the national economy, and accusing the main opposition PASOK of lacking substantial proposals. Karamanlis also appealed to disenchanted voters who might be leaning toward the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), pledging a review of the controversial institution of university asylum, exploited by suspected anarchists staging street battles with police during last December’s riots in Athens. Sources close to ND confirmed yesterday that the ruling party’s campaign will focus almost exclusively on the economy, highlighting its plan for recovery and seeking to expose holes in PASOK’s policy proposals. These proposals are to be fleshed out by PASOK leader George Papandreou at his speech in Thessaloniki on Saturday. Meanwhile, the electoral committees of New Democracy and PASOK prepared their respective lists of candidates for next month’s polls. In the conservative camp, it is expected that former Deputy Minister Petros Doukas will not run as a candidate. The same is believed to apply to former ministers Evangelos Bassiakos and Alexandros Kontos, whose names were linked to the Vatopedi land swap scandal.