NEWS

PASOK in a muddle over local elections

As Prime Minister George Papandreou continues to mull over PASOK’s lineup of candidates for the November local elections, the government appears to be grinding to a halt as ministers wait to see whether they will be among those called on to quit national politics for the local scene. Sources said yesterday that ministers are growing increasingly frustrated and anxious over Papandreou’s final decisions, which are due to be announced this weekend. In contrast to New Democracy, which has made its candidates known, PASOK is fretting over who he will pick. Fresh rumors yesterday suggested that Papandreou has returned to the initial scenario of sending four or five major names from his Cabinet out to stand in the November 7 polls with the aim of securing key cities and regions. These will be the first local elections since local government boundaries were redrawn as part of the government’s Kallikratis scheme, which has created powerful regional authorities in the place of smaller prefectures. Sources said that the prime minister could put Environment Minister Tina Birbili forward as a candidate for the Attica Prefecture and Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis to challenge for office in Thessaloniki. Agricultural Development Minister Katerina Batzeli is also being considered for the equivalent role in central Greece, while Deputy Health Minister Fofi Gennimata is being lined up to run for Athens mayor. In such a scenario, Papandreou, who is due to address his party’s national council on Friday, would have to conduct a fairly extensive reshuffle over the next few days. Such a development has been both suggested and denied over the last few weeks.