NEWS

PM will not change policies

Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with close aides yesterday and stressed that he was determined to stick to his policies without change and to continue to seek cooperation with parties of the left, notably the Left Coalition with whose cooperation the ruling PASOK won eight of its 22 prefectures in the municipal and regional elections. Simitis rejected any thought of a Cabinet reshuffle as a gesture toward an electorate that gave the conservative New Democracy party the greatest gains. He also refused to relax economic policy in order to satisfy farmers and poorer urban residents, both groups which turned their backs on the Socialists. «The budget has exhausted the possibility of economic and social benefits, and it must be clear that the government’s response to the just demands of social groups depends on what the economy can cope with,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. The government is hoping to pacify farmers by promising swifter payment of compensation for damaged crops and better organization of the subsidy system. In cities, the government will work toward improving everyday conditions, holding financial benefits for next year. PASOK officials are thinking of trying to woo the whole Left Coalition, and not just individual members. In exchange, they could change the electoral law to simpler proportional representation, giving small parties more seats in Parliament.