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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-23
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Final results of local government elections releasedWith all the results of Sunday's second round of local government elections counted, ruling New Democracy (ND) party backed candidates carried a total of 30 prefectures throughout the country, against 22 prefectures won by main opposition PASOK party and another two prefectures carried by candidates jointly backed by PASOK and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos).
According to the official results of the run-off elections in seven prefectures and 247 municipalities, ND-backed candidates carried the prefectures of Arcadia and Hania (Crete), while PASOK-backed candidates carried the prefectures of Cephallonia, Lefkada, Magnesia, Serres and Karditsa.
Of the 47 prefectures decided in the preceding Sunday's first round of elections, ND-backed candidates carried 28 prefectures, PASOK-backed candidates won 17 prefectures, and two prefectures were carried by candidates backed jointly by PASOK and Synaspismos.
In the municipal run-offs, interest was focused mainly on the cities of Thessaloniki and Patras. In Thessaloniki, incumbent Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, backed by ND, was re-elected with 52.62 percent over PASOK Parliament deputy Chryssa Arapoglou, who received 47.38 percent. In Patras, former PASOK minister Andreas Fouras was elected with 53.15 percent against 46.91 percent for ND-backed former mayor Evangelos Floratos.
With respect to the 51 prefectural capitals -- Greece has 51 prefectures and three supra-prefectures -- ND-backed mayoral candidates were elected in 26; PASOK-backed candidates were elected in 19; candidates jointly backed by PASOK and Synaspismos were elected in four, while two Synaspismos-backed candidates were elected in two prefectural capitals with the support of PASOK.
In Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area), 14 municipalities changed hands according to the results so far. Of the total 122 municipalities in Attica, 30 were carried by ND-backed candidates; 22 by PASOK-backed candidates; three by candidates jointly backed by Synaspismos and PASOK, four by Synaspismos-backed candidates, one by a candidate backed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and 61 by independent candidates.
Government hails smooth running of local elections
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday expressed satisfaction with the smooth running of local government elections throughout the country over the past two Sundays, while reporting higher levels of abstention compared with local elections in 2002.
The spokesman said that 24,744 polling stations operated during the first round and were down to 9,740 in the second round.
Participation in the first round of prefecture elections was 72.4% in the first round (down from 72.7 per cent during the prefecture elections of 2002) and 56.8% in the second round (down from 66.48% in 2002).
In municipal and community elections, participation stood at 72.45% in the first round (up from 69.4% in 2002) and 64.6% in the second round (down from 72.6% in 2002).
Elections were held in a total of 54 prefectures (including the three supra-prefectures), 914 municipalities and 120 communities, and were concluded in the first round in 43 prefectures and 787 municipalities and communities. Seven prefectures and 247 municipalities and communities went on to a second round last Sunday.
Asked to comment on the final result, Roussopoulos cited statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday, who said the choices of electorate were possibly governed chiefly by personal criteria, while noting that every election result "hides some popular wisdom".
With final results in, the ruling New Democracy party (ND) maintained its lead, carrying a total of 30 prefectures throughout the country, against 22 prefectures carried by main opposition PASOK and another two prefectures carried by candidates jointly backed by PASOK and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN). In the 2002 elections, ND had carried 26 prefectures against 12 won by then ruling PASOK, while another eight had gone to candidates backed jointly by PASOK and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party.
ND also won the two largest municipalities - Athens and Thessaloniki - and was victorious in the largest number of Attica municipalities among the political parties, though over half of these were carried by independents. It failed, however, to prevail against the ticket led by PASOK-backed Fofi Gennimata in the Attica supra-prefecture.
Caption: Greek citizens voted in the second round of local government elections on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006. ANA-MPA photo
 PM to meet with teachers' union reps on Tues.Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself will receive union leaders representing public school educators on Tuesday morning as a primary school teachers' strike was set to officially continue into a sixth week the same day.
The development was announced to reporters by the government spokesman early Monday afternoon, with the latter clarifying that Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou will also participate in the highly anticipated meeting.
"The government's positions are clear ... The prime minister will explain to teachers that the government, which absolutely respects their vocation, has taken specific decisions dictated by the country's economic situation," spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said, while stressing that the premier will again call on striking educators to return to their classes.
"This call will be made at the highest possible level because the government believes in dialogue and wants to make it crystal clear to all that the economy's problems are not solved overnight and are not problems that someone can anticipate in order to become momentarily pleasant. Decisions weren't taken to harass teachers, but because that is what the economy can handle," Roussopoulos said.
In response to a press question on whether the government will ask for main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's assistance to resolve the impasse, Roussopoulos said the government does not need an "intermediary" to talk with professional sectors or with unions.
The spokesman also dismissed a notion that the meeting will set a precedent for direct meetings between striking public sector unions and the head of government, saying that every instance will be judged on a "case by case basis", reminding that Karamanlis met last year with representatives of pensioners' groups.
Finally, asked about a recent postponement in Parliament debate over a future revision of Article XVI in order to allow the establishment of non-state universities in the country, Roussopoulos repeated that "following a request by PASOK the government majority in Parliament had no qualms about accommodating the main opposition. The government, after all, has had a clear position for many years over (revising) Article XVI, and it is a happy coincidence that Mr. Papandreou's view today on the subject converges with ours."
ANA-MPA file photo / S. Pantzartzi.
 Eurostat OKs Greek budget figuresEurostat on Monday announced it has withdrawn its reservations on reported data of the September 2005 notification and April 2006 notification concerning Greece, after the clarification of issues concerning the recording of transactions with the EU budget, the accounts of social security and the amounts of other receivables and payables for the years 2002-2005.
Commenting on Eurostat's decision, a spokeswoman for EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the European Commission now had a satisfactory picture of Greek public finances for the period 2002-2005.
The EU executive's statistics agency said it was using the GDP figures notified in April 2006, and not the revised GDP data reported by the Greek authorities on Oct. 1, 2006. Given the magnitude and complexity of the revised GDP data (an increase of 25 percent compared to the old figures), Eurostat will carry out a complete verification of GDP data once Greece has delivered a full inventory of the sources and methods used for the new calculations.
As far as Greece is concerned, a methodological visit carried out in June 2006 and September 2006 clarified the pending issues mentioned in the Eurostat News Releases of Sept. 26, 2005 and April 24, 2006, concerning the recording of transactions with the EU budget, the accounts of social security and the amounts of other receivables and payables for the years 2002-2005, and resulted in a revision of Greek deficit data. The increase in government deficit for Greece was equal to 0.3 percent of GDP in 2002 and 2003, 0.9 percent in 2004 and 0.7 percent in 2005. The methodological visit will be finalised by the establishment of an action plan for the improvement of Greek government finance statistics, to be carried out during the course of next years, agreed between Eurostat and the Greek statistical authorities.
A file photo of Joaquin Almunia. ANA-MPA / P. Papaioannou.
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