So Greece has a new government, Haider seems to be staging a comeback and next Sunday Spain is going to the polls. On this latter I will post something during the week, meantime, since I confess to knowing next to nothing at all about the significance of the Greek results, or the real state of play with Haider: anyone out there feel willing and able to give us some insight? Especially with those tricky and potentially significant Cyprus negotiations looming right in front of us.
The centre-right New Democracy party on Sunday night won a clear victory in Greece’s general election, putting an end to a decade of Socialist rule.
New prime minister Costas Karamanlis, who has never previously held a cabinet post, faces difficult decisions in the next few weeks over the future of Cyprus and Greece’s lagging preparations for the Athens Olympic games.
But George Papandreou, the Socialist leader, pledged to support the new government on both issues. Conceding defeat, he said: “The Cyprus issue is at a very difficult point and we’ll do everything we can to get a just and viable solution and we’ll support the effort for the Olympic games.”
Mr Karamanlis will take office less than two weeks before the March 22 deadline set by Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, for reaching a Cyprus settlement. The Olympics take place in August.
Source: Financial Times
J?rg Haider, the far-right political leader, brought his party an unanticipated victory in his home province Sunday, increasing the odds for a national comeback.
Most analysts had predicted a loss for his Freedom Party after a string of defeats elsewhere over the past two years. In recent polls, it was more than 10 percentage points behind the Socialists.
Beyond assuring Mr. Haider’s reappointment as governor in the province, the victory increased chances that he would be able to revitalize his party.
Many blame Mr. Haider for the party’s national demise. He has been notorious for past remarks that sounded sympathetic to the Nazis and contemptuous of Jews, a visit with Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Iraq war and a friendship with Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Such tactics have scored points in the past, when Mr. Haider and his party exploited disillusionment with more established political rivals.
His party became part of the national government in 2000, but he stepped down as party leader in 2000 to ease the diplomatic pressure on Austria. His subsequent attempt to run things from the sidelines provoked early elections in 2002, alienating huge numbers of supporters.
Source: New York Times