Greek PM calls early elections

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called early elections.

Greek PM calls early elections

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called early elections.

Karamanlis said he needed a fresh mandate to deal with the economic downturn.

But his conservative New Democracy government trails the main opposition PASOK socialists by about 6 percentage points, indicating he is set to lose the Oct 4 vote.

Analysts said, however, that he might face a more embarrassing defeat six months down the road.

"I am seeking a fresh political mandate," Karamanlis, 52, said in a televised speech.

He gave no date but a senior government source said it would be held on October 4.

"The consequences of the economic crisis are visible, we have two difficult, crucial years ahead of us," he said. "Taking necessary measures imposes one solution: the clearing of the political landscape and a fresh popular mandate."

His four-year term would normally end in 2011.

His ruling conservatives have been plagued with corruption scandals, including a property deal with the influential Vatopedi Monastery that reduced the government's majority to just one seat in the 300-member parliament after Karamanlis axed a dissident lawmaker.

In December he faced criticism as rioting erupted nationwide over the police killing of an Athens teenager.

And in June's European elections, his New Democracy Party was left with the second worst EU vote tally in its history, while the opposition Socialists notched their first victory in five years under George Papandreou, son of the late prime minister Andreas Papandreou.

The Socialists have been repeatedly calling for new legislative elections, pointing to March 2010 when the term of President Karolos Papoulias expires and threatening not to back him this time around.

The Greek president, elected by the single-chamber parliament, needs the votes of at least 200 lawmakers, or new elections must be called.

According to the latest opinion polls, the Socialist party PASOK is ahead of the New Democracy conservatives by more than three percentage points. It scored a similar result in the European elections when the Socialists received 36.65 percent of the votes to 32.29 percent for the ND.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Eylül 2009, 17:19