Papandreou chases outright majority

With a week left before Greeks go to the polls for the October 4 general elections, PASOK leader George Papandreou issued a plea for his party to receive the outpouring of support that would give it an outright majority in Parliament and not require it to look for partners with which to form a coalition government. «Next Sunday, we are taking the most vital step,» he told thousands of supporters in Larissa, central Greece, during a rally last night. «In this effort, every single vote can make the difference, so no vote must be wasted.» Under the electoral law in place for this election, the first party past the post – which, according to all opinion polls conducted up to September 18, will be PASOK – gains an extra 40 seats in Parliament. However, whether this is enough to give it a clear majority will also depend on the percentage of the vote it receives, how many parties pass the 3 percent threshold to gain seats in Parliament and what percentage of the vote goes to parties that do not achieve that target. PASOK’s fate may lie in the hands of the Ecologist Greens, for whom support was at 2.5 percent 10 days ago. If the EcoGreens get into Parliament, then PASOK will need a bigger share of the vote for autonomy. If support for the various other parties runs at 2 percent, for instance, the Socialists have to get 41.8 percent for 151 seats. But, if the nonparliamentary parties gather 5 percent, PASOK needs just 40.6 percent. Papandreou, meanwhile, told voters to ignore the government’s criticism that he has not explained how he will fund planned increases in pensions and public sector pay. «We are not voting for whether or where we will find the money,» he said. «We have provided answers to these questions and continue to do so every day.»