NEWS

Karamanlis issues last rallying call

In one final impassioned attempt to convince Greeks ahead of tomorrow’s general elections to give New Democracy a third consecutive term in power, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attacked PASOK, saying that the Socialists’ plans for government are inadequate and unreliable. «It is now clear: What PASOK and its leader are promising cannot be implemented,» said Karamanlis of the opposition’s plans for reviving the Greek economy. «If these plans were implemented, they would have wide-reaching consequences for all citizens. The economy would be led into serious problems. «This will not happen, we cannot let it happen. Take control of developments; take the decision into your own hands. You make the choice on Sunday.» Karamanlis repeated his campaign theme that PASOK is making promises, such as a rise in public sector pay and pensions, that it knows it cannot keep. The prime minister also accused the Socialists, who were leading the conservatives by 6 percent in the last opinion poll conducted for Kathimerini two weeks ago, of keeping quiet about their plans to change the tax system. «Recently PASOK’s leader has been hiding and is not answering any questions,» said Karamanlis, whose invitation for a third televised debate with Papandreou was turned down. «He is not answering because he is scared. He is scared that he might make a mistake and reveal the truth.» The prime minister contrasted this with what he says is his party’s more honest approach. «From the first moment that the international economic crisis struck, we told the whole truth,» he said. «We took timely and specific measures.» The ban on opinion polls in the last two weeks of the campaign means it is not clear if Karamanlis’s increasingly pointed attacks on PASOK have been having any effect. New Democracy sources suggested yesterday that the election may be too close to call because it is not clear who, if anyone, undecided voters will support tomorrow. The outcome of the election might hinge on how many parties make it into Parliament and what percentage of the total vote the nonparliamentary parties get. If, for instance, the smaller parties who do not enter Parliament gain a total of 2 percent, the leading party will need 41.8 percent to get 151 seats in the 300-seat Parliament. If the nonparliamentary parties get as much as 5 percent, the election winner will need just 40.6 percent for a clear majority. Therefore, the final outcome could be decided by whether the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), polling just above the 3 percent needed to elect MPs, and the Ecologist Greens, polling just below the cutoff mark, make it into Parliament or not. PASOK projects positive outlook; Ecologist Greens open to cooperation in a coalition Wrapping up their pre-election campaigning yesterday, the country’s opposition parties sought to project a positive outlook, keen to swing some of the thousands of undecided voters at the eleventh hour. At the Athens headquarters of the main opposition PASOK, sources said that strategists were satisfied with the way that the party’s campaign had developed, noting that PASOK leader George Papandreou had managed to project a sense of hope, in contrast to the intense and aggressive approach by ruling New Democracy with its emphasis on «responsible but painful» choices. PASOK’s pledge to submit in Parliament five draft laws – chiefly aimed at boosting the economy – in its first 100 days in government is believed to have been particularly well received. Still, according to the same sources, some PASOK cadres believe that the lack of detail in PASOK’s proposed economic program could be seen as a disadvantage in contrast to the specifics served up by ND. Papandreou’s decision to pursue a relatively low-key campaign, and to avoid polarizing the political climate, is also feared by some to have worked against him in favor of smaller opposition parties, such as the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Ecologist Greens. The leader of the EcoGreens, Nikos Chrysogelos, yesterday said in his last news conference before tomorrow’s polls that his party’s goal was to elect between eight and 10 deputies to Parliament. He said the EcoGreens would be prepared to cooperate with one of the two main parties in a possible coalition government as long as they could reach agreement on certain policies.