Greek Citizens along with hundreds of millions of voters of the 25 member EU states go to the polls on Sunday to elect the members of the news enlarged European Parliament. It will the second time in 3 months that Greeks will vote. Latest polls show the ruling party of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis to lead over PASOK by a margin of 8 percentage points. Communist Party follows with over 7% and the Coalition with 4%.
A televised debate between the leaders of the political parties in Parliament will be held at 21:00 on Tuesday, June 8 – just five days before the European elections on Sunday – and will be hosted by the state television channel ERT.
The rules of the debate have been set by the Cross-party Committee, in terms of length, topics and the time allowed for questions and answers. Mega TV talk-show host Yiannis Pretederis will be the debate coordinator after he was chosen by lottery from among the journalists proposed by the main nationwide media networks in the country.
Questions will be put by the journalists Elli Stai (Antenna), Stavros Theodorakis (Star), Nikos Evangelatos (Alter), Pavlos Tsimas (ERT) and Manolis Kapsis (Alpha).
Deputy foreign minister for European Affairs Yannis Valinakis on Thursday urged Greek citizens to turn out and vote in Sunday’s European Parliament elections, as part of a campaign by EU foreign ministers to boost voter turnout.
“Vote on June 13 – Decide on the future of Europe”, is the message jointly drafted by the foreign ministers of the 25 EU member states, which was addressed by Valinakis to the Greek voters.
“These are the first elections of the Europe of the ’25’. They are a manifestation of our volition to share a common vision of peace, solidarity and security, a necessary condition in order that Europe’s voice will become even more powerful on the international forefront,” Valinakis said, and invited the citizens to exercise their voter’s right in Sunday’s polls.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressed a rally in Thessaloniki on Saturday ahead of the June 13 European Parliament elections. Speaking at the city’s Vellidio centre, Karamanlis pledged that the government would maintain to the full the commitments which his New Democracy (ND) party had made during the period leading to the March 7 general elections which gave the ND a resounding victory.
“Three months ago we made an agreement of honour. We committed ourselves for a new governance based on principles and values. For a policy of dynamic development with social responsibility. For a new policy which will guarantee new prospects in our country. Our commitments are valid to the full. We are proceeding with consistency, determination and effectiveness,” Karamanlis said.
Continuing, the prime minister referred to the three months since the ND came to power, saying that during this period major work has been advanced.
He expounded on the first 16 steps which were made and which, as he said, reveals the government’s priorities and objectives. Among these, he noted the draft law for public administration which implements effective measures for the combating of bureaucracy and corruption, the success in the first EU battle for agricultural products and the agreement with Turkey for a cut-back in defense equipment programmes.
He added that during this period, there is an undisputable leap of progress in the national issue of 2004.
“We intensified the rate of preparations for the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games of Athens. We worked in coordination so that eveything will be ready for the great hour of the historic hosting,” Karamanlis stressed and sent a message that “we are proceeding with certainty and self-confidence for all us Greeks to do together the Games which fit the country which gave birth to them.”
Summing up the government’s work, he said that “no government has ever been called on to do so much in such a short period of time,” adding that “we do not transfer the problems for tomorrow.”
On the Euro-elections, the prime minister said that they were of utmost importance for the course of Europe, for all its citizens, for every Greek.
“The European Union is a part of our lives. Its decisions are decisive for the security and prosperity of our peoples. They affect all the more our daily life,” he said.
Prior to addressing the rally, the prime minister boarded a vessel on the occasion of World Environment Day and made a brief tour of the Thermaikos Gulf in Thessaloniki.
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing party supporters in the seaside town of Rio near the new Rio-Antirrio cable bridge on Friday, said the government of the New Democracy party lacks vision and strategy.
“The ND government has no vision. It has no strategy. This is already obvious, although they are trying to conceal it. They are postponing everything until autumn. They are using the Olympic Games as an excuse to postpone. In a few months, in September in Thessaloniki, we will be faced with a tough austerity programme. Because the New Democracy party has no solutions for the country’s problems,” he said.
Papandreou went on to say that ND “has no political will and no courage. How did it go to the elections? It gave promises to all. It gave promises which it is impossible for it to keep. It gave conflicting promises. An overall strategy is lacking.”
Referring to the cable bridge project, Papandreou underlined the efforts made by PASOK governments for the project to be carried out with consistency, responsibility and patience.
The PASOK leader was accompanied on his visit by former Prime Minister Costas Simitis and former ministers Costas Laliotis and Vasso Papandreou.
Coalition leader appeals to voters to support party at Euro-elections: At a press conference at the Zappeion building on Thursday, Coalition of the Radical Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos urged voters to support his party at the European elections on June 13. The Coalition leader accused the two main parties, ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, of following the same neoliberal policies and he was particularly critical of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which he accused of adopting an unrealistic policy with respect to the European Union.