Attica key to election conundrum

The result of elections in the Attica region this Sunday could decide whether Prime Minister George Papandreou will call snap elections or whether he will argue that the government does not require a fresh mandate to continue with its structural reforms program. Sources said that there are some members of government who are convinced Papandreou will call snap elections no matter what on Sunday night after the results are in from local elections. However, the prevailing view in government circles is that if PASOK has not suffered heavy defeats in many parts of the country, Papandreou will make a decision based on the result in the Attica region, which accounts for some 4 million people and roughly one in three of all Greek voters. PASOK’s candidate, Attica Prefect Yiannis Sgouros, is facing a tough battle against former Socialist deputy Yiannis Dimaras, who was ousted from the party earlier this year when he failed to vote in favor of the agreement for Greece to borrow 110 billion euros from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Dimaras has campaigned as the anti-memorandum candidate and appears to be attracting considerable support. The third leading candidate in the race is New Democracy’s Vassilis Kikilias. The rules that apply to local elections mean that a candidate needs 50 percent of the vote to be elected. It is unlikely that either Sgouros, Dimaras or Kikilias will be able to garner such support on Sunday. This would lead to a runoff between the two leading candidates a week later. Sources said that if Sgouros manages to make it into the second round and has a discernable lead over third-placed Kikilias, then Papandreou is likely to interpret this as a sign that there is no need to call general elections to show that PASOK still has much stronger support than ND.