Papandreou looks to future at Athens rally

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and PASOK leader George Papandreou chose to spend the penultimate days of their election campaigns in very different ways: The premier answered questions from some 100 Athenians in an orchestrated discussion, while his opponent addressed thousands of supporters near the city center. In what was the largest PASOK rally of this campaign, Papandreou stepped onto the podium at the Pedio tou Areos park to promise a more independent and less corrupt government should the Socialists win power in Sunday’s elections. «On Sunday, we will once and for all close the door on the past and open the door to the future,» he said. Papandreou reminded his audience that PASOK has set out the content of the first five bills it will submit to Parliament if elected. The draft laws, which are due to be tabled during the first 100 days of a Socialist administration, are all centered on the economy, which has been the main theme of this campaign. Papandreou added that his government would tackle price fixing but would support companies who retain their current employees or hire new ones. In a move that is sure to have delighted some of the party’s older supporters, Papandreou reminded the crowd that PASOK had won two other elections held in October: in 1981 and 1993. The PASOK leader also pledged to back the regeneration of run-down neighborhoods in Athens. Karamanlis made his appearance in much more intimate surroundings, speaking in a TV studio to a group of residents from the southeastern Athens suburb of Ilioupoli. The prime minister fielded questions from the audience and repeated his message that PASOK’s plans for the economy are not realistic or reliable. But Karmanlis also turned his fire on the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), urging conservative supporters not to switch allegiances. «Every vote lost is a vote for PASOK, whose plan for governing the country is just a blank page,» he said. Karamanlis is due to speak at Pedio tou Areos tonight while Papandreou is expected in Patra. There will be no campaigning tomorrow.