NEWS

PM calls on voters to back change

With less than two weeks to go before the local elections, Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday called on Greeks to use the polls as an opportunity to express support for the ruling Socialist party’s efforts to revive the debt-ridden economy and reassured them that no new wage cuts or tax increases were on the cards. In a speech in the northern port of Alexandroupoli, the premier asked Greeks «to send a strong message inside and outside the country» by supporting the candidates of ruling PASOK. The outcome of the vote is uncertain in many areas, including Athens and Thessaloniki, largely because of the controversial Kallikratis reform – an administrative overhaul that merged municipalities and prefectures to curb state spending. In a letter published in To Vima newspaper yesterday, Papandreou suggested that the local elections were about more than selecting local and regional leaders. «The weight of the November 7 vote has acquired deeper political significance – citizens will give a clear signal on where they want the country to go,» the letter said. In a clear bid to shore up support ahead of the polls, the premier also stressed that there would be no more painful measures for Greeks on low and medium-level incomes. «Whatever happens, there will be no additional burdens on salary earners and pensioners and no rise in tax rates beyond what we have already announced,» Papandreou said. Antonis Samaras, leader of the main conservative opposition New Democracy party, accused the premier of presenting Greek voters with «false dilemmas» and resorting to «blackmail.» «It won’t work, this false dilemma of rescue or bankruptcy, because his policy leads to bankruptcy,» Samaras said from Serres, northern Greece, where he continued his campaign trail. Responding yesterday to Samaras’s description of him as «a goalkeeper waiting for the penalty kick,» Papandreou retorted, «He has no idea how many penalty shots we have saved in our bid to rescue Greece.»