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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-01-11
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Major changes in political scene, voter preferences indicated in 2 opinion polls11/01/2004 21:35:11
Major changes in the political scenery and voter preferences are indicated by the first two telephone opinion polls conducted after premier Costas Simitis' announcement that he was stepping down from the leadership of the ruling PASOK party, the results of which appeared in Sunday's editions of two major nationwide newspapers.
The opinion polls, conducted by Metron Analysis and MRB, appeared in Sunday's editions of ''Ethnos'' and ''Kathimerini'' newspapers respectively.
According to the Metron Analysis poll appearing in Ethnos newspaper, foreign minister George Papandreou (who is slated to take over the helm of PASOK) was leading with 44.6 percent against 40.2 percent for main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis as the ''most suited for prime minister''. PASOK under Papandreou's leadership and ND under Karamanlis' leadership tied with 39.5 percent each to the question of ''most suitable government''.
To the question of ''most likely to win the elections'' if they were held next Sunday, New Democracy led with 41.3 percent, against 31.9 percent for PASOK, while 24.6 percent replied ''don't know/no answer'', reducing ND's lead over PASOK in similar polls conducted by Metron Analysis to below 10 percentage points, and more specifically to 9.4 percentage points.
Papandreou also led in popularity, with 73.4 percent, against 60.5 percent for Karamanlis. Papandreou overwhelmingly led over Karamanlis in popularity in the 18-44 age bracket, while Karamanlis led substantially in the 55 and over age group.
In addition, 62.5 percent agreed with the PASOK leadership passing on to Papandreou, while 20.2 percent disagreed.
Further, 73.1 percent believed that Papandreou's assumption of the PASOK leadership would strengthen the party in the general elections, while only 8.7 percent believed it would weaken it.
To a question on what Papandreou needed to do in order to increase his party's chances of winning the elections, 48.6 percent said he should ''change policy completely'' while 36.8 percent said he should ''continue the Simitis policy, with certain changes''.
Also, 47.6 percent felt that the account of Simitis' 8 years in the premiership had been positive, while 33.9 percent felt that it had been negative.
In addition, 48.8 percent believed that Simitis set in motion the succession procedure ''in order for PASOK to win again'' in the elections, while 35.1 percent felt he did so in order ''not to have the electoral failure attributed to him''.
According to the MRB poll appearing in Kathimerini newspaper, Karamanlis led with 33.2 percent over 31.5 percent for Papandreou in the question ''most suitable for prime minister'', followed by 11.3 percent for Simitis and 4.6 percent for Athens mayor and prominent ND cadre Dora Bakoyanni.
As for which party would win the elections if they were held next Sunday, ND led with 51.4 percent against 38.9 percent for PASOK. Although ND led with 12.5 percentage points, the difference between the two major parties has dropped overwhelmingly from 30 percent in a similar poll conducted by MRB just one month ago, in December 2003.
Also, 35.9 percent of the respondents had a ''good'' or ''very good'' opinion of the current government, while 39.8 percent had a ''good'' or ''very good'' opinion of ND. Coversely, 44.5 percent had a ''not so good'' or ''not good'' opinion of the government, while 37.1 percent had a ''not so good'' or ''not good'' opinion of ND. Another 18.5 percent had a ''neutral'' opinion of the government, while 18.5 percent had a ''neutral'' opinion on ND.
 Karamanlis at Halandri rally: PASOK cannot truly change - it's time for it to go11/01/2004 21:23:53
Addressing a New Democracy rally on Saturday, main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis declared himself confident that ND would prevail in the upcoming elections, claiming that PASOK was incapable of satisfying the electorate's demand for true, in-depth change or of convincing the public with last-minute promises before the polls.
He stressed that 2004 was a crucial year in the history of modern Greece and a milestone in the course toward a new era, a different policy and a new type of government for the major changes and reforms demanded by the new age.
Society's demand for a new page and a new start could not be met by the old PASOK in new packaging, he added.
''The dilemma before us today is whether we want to continue the same policy or bring about a change of policy with a new form of government. Whether we want the preservation of an establishment of corruption and decay or a new vision of the country,'' Karamanlis said.
After 20 years in power, PASOK was incapable of carrying out its promises to change or of convincing anyone, he added.
 FM Papandreou calls on NGOs to contribute to health, welfare policy formulation11/01/2004 21:22:47
Foreign minister George Papandreou on Sunday announced the inclusion of former finance minister Alekos Papadopoulos in the ruling PASOK party's list of candidates for the March 7 early general elections, while he also called on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to contribute to the formuilation of policy and the management of health and welfare services.
Speaking to an event organnised by the Panhellenic Association of Kidney Sufferers, Papandreou said that he was proud of the prestige and weight Greece had acquired, in the political arena, referring to his representation of the country as foreign minister.
However, he added, ''I repreent Greece not only on issues such as the Cyprus problem and the Balkans, but also with respect to the economy, the einvironment, and social issues''.
He said Greece continued to be the country with the lowest standing in the Eu with respect to organ and tissue donors, and called on the parliament president, all the political parties and the relevant bodies, to launch a campaign in that area.
 80 per cent of British public wants Parthenon Marbles in Greece11/01/2004 21:22:41
LONDON (ANA/L. Tsirigotakis) - The British public overwhelmingly supports the return of the Parthlenon Marbles to Greece, according to a recent opinion poll conducted in the country and is expected to be officially released on Wednesday.
Some 80 per cent of those questioned support the return of the marbles, compared to 50 per cent only three years ago, ''The Sunday Telegraph'' and the ''Sunday Times'' reported.
Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos also on Sunday said that he was particularly happy of the response of the British public, as expressed in this opinion poll, stressing that ''I am glad as minister of culture and personally as well, because the proposals we have stated to achieve the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles - in the form of a single exhibit in Athens, under the auspices of the Acropolis Museum and the British Museum, a branch of which we want to establish within the New Acropolis Museum - has met with such great acceptance by the British public opinion''.
He thanked those that worked hard to inform the British public of the initiative and for their support in the effort to reunify the elements of the Parthenon, an international cultural symbol.
It should also be noted that the Sunday Times' report also stressed that some 90 per cent of British museums' personnel supports the return of the marbles, as the opinion poll showed.
 Foreign ministry's expatriate youth program begins on Sunday11/01/2004 21:11:23
The foreign ministry's expatriate Greeks' general secretariat announced on Sunday that 180 expatriate Greek youths will be hosted in Greece, to an educational and tour program, aiming to promote their bonds with the motherland.
The program will be conducted in Athens, but will include tours of archaeological and cultural sites and will take place from Jan. 11 to Feb. 2.
 Weather Forecast: Cloud, showers on Monday11/01/2004 16:30:41
Cloud and local showers are forecast throughout the country on Monday. Cloud and local showers, with chances of snow on high ground, are forecast in Macedonia and Thrace, with temperatures of -3 to 8 C. Cloud and chances of local showers, with temperatures of -1 to 12 C are forecast for western Greece, Thessaly, Evia, and the eastern Peloponese. Cloud with rain and storms and temperatures of 5-14 C forecast for the Cyclades, Crete the islands of the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese.
Athens will be overcast, with temperatures of 4-11 C. Thessaloniki will be overcast, with chances of showers and temperatures of 2-8 C.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday11/01/2004 15:36:29
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.283
Pound sterling 0.699
Danish kroner 7.507
Swedish kroner 9.184
Japanese yen 137.2
Swiss franc 1.579
Norwegian kroner 8.716
Cyprus pound 0.591
Canadian dollar 1.641
Australian dollar 1.657
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