ND, PASOK try to add to Sunday gains

The opposition New Democracy party yesterday shifted its electoral campaign for the second round of voting on Sunday by waking to the fact that it appeared to have won the most votes in municipal and regional elections last Sunday. It now aims to win more than 30 of the 57 prefectures. The conservatives also dropped their campaign slogan, «Send a Message,» which was a direct challenge to the government. But perhaps more importantly, they decided to stop acting apologetically for their impending loss of the Athens-Piraeus «super-prefecture,» where the PASOK government’s candidate, Fofi Yennimata, got 40.1 percent, beating ND candidate Yiannis Tzannetakos with 26.7 percent. The government, however, sought to keep the focus on Athens-Piraeus, lambasting the decision by ND’s candidates for the Athens and Piraeus prefectures (Athanassios Veziryiannis and Mary Tsanaki) to visit Archbishop Christodoulos on Tuesday without taking Tzannetakos, the leader of their ticket, with them. Christodoulos has made no secret of his detestation of Tzannetakos because the latter sided with the government in 2000 in its decision to scrap the mention of religion on identity cards. «With the tolerance of New Democracy, Mr Veziryiannis and Mrs Tsanaki are trying to get the Church involved in their pre-election games and this is dangerous,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. In any case, New Democracy appeared to be acting with greater self-assurance yesterday, seeking alliances with left-of-center parties for the runoff vote on Sunday. PASOK wants to win Athens-Piraeus with the highest percentage possible in order to offset ND’s gains elsewhere. It is also trying to forge alliances with the left to limit the percentage through which ND mayoral candidates Dora Bakoyianni and Christos Agrapidis will carry Athens and Piraeus, respectively. PASOK is also hoping for at least 18 prefectures. The new factor in the country’s politics, the ultra-nationalist Giorgos Karadzaferis, who won 13.6 percent in the Athens-Piraeus race last Sunday, declared that his newly formed LAOS party will be contesting the next national elections.