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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-19

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 19/10/1998 (ANA)


  • Second round of local elections confirms trend of first round
  • PM says government's work will be judged at end of term
  • Opposition leaders comment on elections
  • Katrivanos elected Attica super-prefect
  • Thessaloniki prefect and mayor
  • New Piraeus mayor comments
  • Five communities abstain in protest
  • Parliament president says too much money spent on campaigns
  • Georgia-Abkhazia conference in Athens
  • Manos confirms he will form political party
  • NATO exercise in northern Greece draws to a close
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Second round of local elections confirms trend of first round

The results of the second round of the Greek local government elections yesterday confirmed the trend of the registered outcome of last Sunday's first round of the elections.

According to results released by the Interior Ministry at 2.00 am today, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on its own or with the backing of other opposition parties appears to have won 25 prefectures including two super prefectures, that of Attica and Drama-Kavala-Xanthi.

Ruling PASOK party, alone or with the support of other parties, appears to have won 23 prefectures, while the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) in cooperation with the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) appeared to have won the prefecture of Hania while the prefecture of Pella was won by George Petsos, a former PASOK minister and deputy who ran as an independent candidate.

On the municipal front, PASOK appeared to gain 372 municipalities of which 178 without outside support.

ND appeared to have won a total of 377, of which 258 on its own.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) won 25, the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) 3 and the Coalition of Left and Progress (Synaspismos) 2.

PM says government's work will be judged at end of term

Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night said the results of the local elections were lower than what his ruling PASOK party expected.

The premier, after his meeting with party staff at PASOK's headquarters, stated that the results were based on a strong rallying by opposition parties advocating different policies for local administration, something that did not happen for the first time, and a lack of cohesion among PASOK voters.

Mr. Simitis also said that these elections sent multiple messages, including candidate choices as well as sectors of governmental policy. However, he stressed that the work of the government will be judged at the end of its four-year term.

The prime minister also said that PASOK remained the dominant political force, which insisted on its policies instead of resorting to transactions.

He added that during these local elections PASOK conducted the battle for the reforms and decentralisation with consistency and succeeded in making its views on local government institutions dominate, stressing that this became clear by the correlation of the political forces during the first round of elections.

The premier congratulated all those who won and promised that the government will stand by them in their efforts for a more effective functioning of local government.

Opposition leaders comment on elections

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said that the results were "characterised by four points: the complete collapse of the division lines of the past, the projection of needs and perspectives of the local societies by the citizens, the disapproval of the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis personally and the elevation of ND to the leading party on a continuous rise".

ND honourary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said that the "Greek people sent a strong message to the government and (a message of) firm support to ND".

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleca Papariga said that the dissatisfaction of the workers toward the government's policy was boosted in the second round of the local government elections.

"The popular dissatisfaction was also expressed towards the New Democracy party," Ms Papariga said.

Coalition of the Left and Progress party (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said that the second round of the elections was characterised by the dominance of "conservative rationale".

Mr. Constantopoulos said that the electorate's choices were determined by "dissatisfaction towards the government's policy, which surpassed local government criteria".

Democractic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas expressed his concern about the "unprecedented abstention percentage", while he said he was satisfied with the image of his party during both election rounds.

Political Spring (POLAN) leader Antonis Samaras said that the outcome of the local administration elections was a "significant message for immediate political change" and that the victory of opposition coalitions in the super-prefectures of Athens and Piraeus marked a "new political reality in the country".

Katrivanos elected Attica super-prefect

The newly-elected super-prefect of Attica Theodoros Katrivanos, supported by the main opposition New Democracy party, called the victory of his coalition a "historical result above political parties and persons".

Mr. Katrivanos promised to wage a struggle for a true local government in Attica, interpreting the ballot as a "condemnation of the cries of hate and disunity that dominated the slogans of our rivals".

Defeated incumbent Attica super-prefect Evangelos Kouloumbis, who was supported by PASOK, congratulated Mr. Katrivanos and promised to assist him in the upgrading of the institution of the local administration.

Thessaloniki prefect and mayor

Re-elected Thessaloniki prefect Costas Papadopoulos, backed by PASOK, extended an offer for cooperation between "victors and defeated" for the benefit of Thessaloniki.

Mr. Papadopoulos, regarding his collaboration with the newly-elected Thessaloniki mayor, said that "...We can work together for the benefit of the city...I intend to work with all the mayors in the prefecture so that Thessaloniki can advance,away from partisan 'feuds'".

Newly-elected Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, who was backed by the New Democracy party, thanked the citizens of Thessaloniki for his victory and called the outcome a "great honour" for him.

"We are resolved and prepared to demand from the central government what they owe to this city and we are going to achieve that if we all join in a struggle for a common cause".

Defeated Thessaloniki mayoral candidate Thrassyvoulos Lazaridis stated that he and his side would contribute to the unity of the new administration and that he had telephoned Mr. Papageorgopoulos to wish him success in his endeavour.

New Piraeus mayor comments

Supporters of newly-elected mayor of Piraeus Christos Agrapidis celebrated his victory, with many motorists honking their horns in the streets of this port-city.

The new Piraeus mayor in a statement said that "starting tomorrow we are all going to work in order to be prepared for the new year and to solve the big problems of our city. We are inviting everyone to participate in a joint effort. All Piraeus citizens together, above partisan differences and preferences".

Defeated mayoral candidate Christos Fotiou stated that "democracy has its own rules and I honour them. Piraeus has elected Christos Agrapidis. I congratulate him and wish him strength and courage to take the city out of the current impasse. It is not the right time to analyse why and how we arrived at this result. I want to underline that Mr. Agrapidis' strong allies were, among other factors, blank and invalid votes as well as abstentions. As for myself, I will always be present and standing by all de mocratic calls".

Five communities abstain in protest

Citizens of five communities decided to abstain from yesterday's elections in protest to the "Ioannis Kapodistrias" programme.

Citizens' committees in the communities of Kanalia of Magnisia prefecture, Staritsani of Elassona, Kastro of Viotia, Neos Marmaras and Agios Nikolaos of Halkidiki abstained from the vote in protest of their communities' merger into municipalities along with other nearby communities.

Citizens' committees blocked entrance to the few who wanted to vote. As a result, turnout was almost nil.

Parliament president says too much money spent on campaigns

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, after voting in the second round of the local elections, referred to the large amounts of money spent during the pre-election period and to the resources for the projects and supplies that the newly elected local administrators will be called to manage.

Mr. Kaklamanis said that "huge amounts were spent in these elections for the campaign of individuals and (various) coalitions by far exceedding expenditures for parties and candidates during the parliamentary elections" and that his experience in politics has tought him that contributors usually expected to receive "many times over" in return.

Mr. Kaklamanis stressed the need for a legal framework aiming at essential transparency and fair management of the resources.

Georgia-Abkhazia conference in Athens

A United Nations-sponsored conference over the weekend in Athens between Georgia and the breakaway region of Abkhazia yielded the first positive results yesterday, when the two sides decided to cooperate in the resolution of their problems.

The conference, which was hosted by the Greek foreign ministry, was the first substantial contact between the two sides since the end of the war in 1993, when Abkhaz separatists drove Georgian troops and 150,000 civilians from the territory after Georgian irregulars entered Abkhazia, following steps of the local parliament to attain greater sovereignty.

The two sides decided to discuss security, economic cooperation, the return of refugees to their homes as well as cultural and human rights issues, in direct talks.

The discussions were held under the presidency of Lydiou Bota, representative of the UN secretary general, who thanked both sides and Russia for their efforts in resolving the problems between the two sides. Russia participated in the Athens conference with a special envoy.

Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos received congratulations from all sides for the hospitality, which aided the continuation of the peace initiative, which began in Geneva last year.

Summing up the results of the conference, Mr. Pangalos expressed the hope that the Athens conference set the bases for future bilateral talks which will make possible the progress in relations between the Caucasus countries.

Manos confirms he will form political party

Former national economy minister Stephanos Manos yesterday confirmed reports that he will form a political party.

Mr. Manos, who was expelled from the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party last February for abstaining from a critical vote in parliament, announced his intentions during an interview to Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" Sunday edition.

Speaking of newly re-elected Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, Mr. Manos said the mayor must prove through real work his leadership, otherwise it will be very difficult for him to claim a leadership role.

He also said that the people of the centre-right are tired of selecting their leadership with only one criterion, that of high popularity.

The former minister of the 1990-1993 ND Constantine Mitsotakis government asked for tighter fiscal policy and said that there should be no reductions in taxes.

On a different note, he said that the government was hurt by its choices of persons for candidates in the municipal and prefectural elections, in the large urban areas, but said that the small decline of PASOK in these elections is understandable, since this is the midpoint between general elections.

Finally, Mr. Manos said that ND should not feel satisfied, since it has benefited only by the votes of Political Spring (POL.AN).

NATO exercise in northern Greece draws to a close

The head of NATO's rapid reaction force in Europe, British Lt-General Michael Jackson, has expressed full satisfaction with the degree of training and readiness of the Greek contigent, after attending the alliance's ARCADE FUSION '98 exercise in northern Greece.

Speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki yesterday, Lt-General Jackson said he was delighted by the level of training and cooperation among staff of the Second Armoured Division.

He denied that the scenario of the map exercise, which is being conducted with the aid of computers, is in any way related to developments in Kosovo, stressing that it was planned two years ago. He expressed hope that a solution would be found in Serbia 's troubled province without the use of force.

The exercise began on October 11, and is due to end tomorrow.


Mostly fair weather is expected throughout the country today with local clouds in the western and northern regions, possibly turning to rain in the northwest in the afternoon. Fair weather in Athens with temperatures from 13-25 C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 11-24 C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.558 British pound 468.760 Japanese yen (100) 240.580 French franc 50.882 German mark 170.624 Italian lira (100) 17.241 Irish Punt 425.370 Belgian franc 8.271 Finnish mark 56.078 Dutch guilder 151.275 Danish kr. 44.886 Austrian sch. 24.257 Spanish peseta 2.008 Swedish kr. 35.139 Norwegian kr. 36.829 Swiss franc 210.463 Port. Escudo 1.664 Aus. dollar 175.683 Can. dollar 178.560 Cyprus pound 576.808


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