Big parties fish in Left voters’ pool

The ruling PASOK party and conservative New Democracy have been working intensively to gain maximum support for their candidates in the second round of municipal and regional elections this Sunday. PASOK has been trying to woo voters who had voted for PASOK rebels and for other left-of-center candidates in the first round of voting last Sunday. The latter is a pool in which New Democracy is also fishing. Last night, in a speech before about 2,500 chanting supporters in Thessaloniki, extreme right LAOS party leader Giorgos Karadzaferis made clear that he supported New Democracy’s candidates in most cases, except the one for the crucial Athens-Piraeus super-prefecture, Yiannis Tzannetakos. This combined prefecture is home to about a quarter of the country’s population and has become a major public relations problem for New Democracy. Although the conservatives appear on their way to winning most major municipalities and the largest number of prefectures, their impending loss to PASOK in Athens-Piraeus has stolen much of their thunder. Tzannetakos, a centrist who is not a member of New Democracy, has proved unpopular with many party members because of his support for the government in its clash with the Church over the scrapping of the mentioning of religion on identity cards in 2000. This strengthened ultra-nationalist Karadzaferis, who came in third in the Athens-Piraeus vote with 13.6 percent, after PASOK’s Fofi Yennimata (40.1 percent) and Tzannetakos (26.7 percent). Karadzaferis has clearly benefited from and enjoyed Tzannetakos’s discomfort. Yesterday, he called on his supporters to say whether they wanted to vote for Tzannetakos, whom he accused of calling them «Nazis and outside the parliamentary system» – neglecting to mention that on his ticket he had four members of a neo-Nazi party. When they cried «No,» he exulted, «Mr Tzannetakos, you have lucked out, lucked out, lucked out.» ND’s latest TV spot for the Athens-Piraeus campaign came under fire yesterday. It equates Ms Yennimata with a small Fiat while Tzannetakos is likened to a Land Rover. PASOK officials said it was sexist and showed ND’s class obsessions.