Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday and it was accepted, Simitis’s spokesman, Telemachos Hytiris said. Pachtas was condemned by his superior, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, on Thursday, when the latter learned that his deputy had passed a controversial amendment through Parliament the previous night. The amendment allowed a technical company to build 5,000 units for tourists on the Halkidiki peninsula, Pachtas’s constituency. Christodoulakis said he would pass another amendment scrapping the one passed by Pachtas. George Papandreou, who is running for election as PASOK’s leader next month, demanded an explanation from the party’s general secretary, Michalis Chrysochoidis and for Mr Pachtas and the 9 deputies cosigning the proposal not to be included in the party’s ticket. The proposal was accepted.
Political observers expect this new problem to heart PASOK in the polls. A recent poll by the Opinion Co. and broadcasted by MEGA Channel, records a difference of three-points between ND and PASOK. ND is at 39.9%, PASOK at 36.6%, the KKE at 5%, and the Coalition of the Left, LAOS and DIKKI are at under 3%.
Giorgos Papandreou was f ound the most appropriate Prime Minister and is 3 points ahead of Costas Karamanlis. New Democracy is 7 points ahead in electoral victory probability. In political leader popularity Giorgos Papandreou concentrated 64.6%, Mr. Karamanlis 60.6%, while N. Con stantopoulos of the Coalition of the Left is at 44% and D. Tsovolas of DIKKI is at 36%.
Meanwhile, former Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, was received by ND President Costas Karamanlis and announced his return to the party. He is expected to r un in the I Athens electoral district, where he had first been elected in 1994, before his election was cancelled. The Government Spokesperson characterized Mr. Avramopoulos’ return an interior matter for the main opposition party.
The messages coming in from every region in the country were clear and optimistic about New Democracy’s upcoming victory, ND leader Costas Karamanlis told a meeting of the main opposition’s central committee on Friday.
He said a broad social alliance was forming within society, which was seeking new paths for the country.
Karamanlis added that ND had the backing of several former voters of ruling PASOK who were disappointed by the government’s inconsistent policies, as well as of young people.
He warned party officials to be on guard against attempted undemocratic behaviour from ”the PASOK state” and stressed that he held the party’s sole leadership candidate George Papandreou personally responsible for the behaviour of ministries and state services.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday embarked on a tour of Thessaly by visiting the Panthessalian Stadium in Nea Ionia Volos, where part of the Olympics soccer tournament will be held. In a brief statement at the stadium, Simitis said it was proof that the Olympic Games had brought improvements and infrastructure to all regions of the country, not just Athens.
Simitis and the delegation of ministers accompanying him then departed for the city of Larissa, where they dined with PASOK MPs and party officials.
In the evening, Simitis will address a rally at Larissa’s Alcazar stadium and present the convergence charter for 2004-2008 specific to development in Thessaly. The government is presenting the charter as its ”covenant” with the voters of Thessaly for the March 7 general elections.