ND unveils poll lineup

New Democracy announced last night its candidate lists for the October 4 general election but the move by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to leave out the names of some former ministers immediately sparked controversy. One of those omitted from the list was former Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis. After learning of the news via TV, Tsitouridis headed to ND headquarters, where he is said to have had an angry exchange with party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis before claiming he had been targeted by corrupt elements within the party and that he would make damaging revelations. Tsitouridis is one of seven former ministers that have been left off ND’s election ticket. Another former employment minister, Vassilis Magginas, beat Karamanlis to it by announcing early yesterday that he would not stand. However, the names of former Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas and ex-Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis were scratched from ND’s list yesterday. Former Agriculture ministers Evangelos Bassiakos and Alexandros Kontos were named as candidates. At PASOK headquarters, meanwhile, there was satisfaction about the way that leader George Papandreou performed in Thessaloniki over the weekend. With opinion polls showing PASOK stretching its lead to as much as 7.9 percent over New Democracy, Socialist officials felt there was little that could now derail the party’s advance toward government on October 4. PASOK sources said that Papandreou’s speech and performance at Sunday’s extensive press conference was deemed a resounding success, both in terms of setting out the party’s agenda and in avoiding costly slip-ups. «Those who watched the speech and the answers he gave to journalists have concluded who can take the country forward,» said spokesman Giorgos Papaconstantinou. The Socialists seem to believe that one of the few things that can scupper their return to power is Papandreou being outperformed by Karamanlis in a televised debate. A cross-party committee was unable yesterday to decide on the format for the debate and officials are due to meet again later this week.