In a show of unity amidst mutual recriminations over the cancellation of their last debate before Sunday’s run-off, Pasok leader Fofi Gennimata and opponent Nikos Androulakis paid a joint visit to the flood disaster zone in Western Attica.
“There are responsibilities that must be assigned and assumed. The relief of the victims and the repair of damages must be immediate and generous,” Gennimata said.
The Pasok leader proposed that victims’ debt to both the public sector and banks be frozen and that financial aid should be given to those afflicted, if necessary from the state budget surplus.
“This [disaster] again brings diachronic problems to the forefront – the deficiencies of Greek state and serious shortcomings in restitution and prevention,” Androulakis said.
The debate that will not be
Before this symbolic show of unity, the two candidates’ camps were waging a very public battle over who took the initiative to cancel the run-off debate this week, after the flood catastrophe.
Androulakis said he called the head of the committee managing the election, Athens University Law Professor Nikos Alivizatos, to request a postponement until Saturday. The candidate also requested that Sunday’s run-off be postponed, but that was rejected by the organising committee.
After Alivizatos clarified that he had no objection to conducting the debate on Saturday, supporters and pundits surmised that it was Gennimata who wanted to scrap it.
Many supporters of the centre left were critical of the cancellation and attributed it to Gennimata, on the grounds that with a huge lead she potentially had the most to lose in a nationally televised debate.
A number of cadres from the centrist To Potami party have endorsed Gennimata, such as Miltos Kyrkos, son of the late non-communist left leader Leonidas Kyrkos, Yorgos Grammatikakis, an emeritus physics professor and former rector, and MP Grigoris Psarianos. So did her erstwhile competitor and former Pasok minister Yannis Ragousis.
Former prime minister George Papandreou hinted in an interview that he is supporting Gennimata, as are Democratic Left party leader Thanasis Theoharopoulos and fellow candidate in the first round, lawyer Apostolos Pontas.
Former Pasok minister Yannis Maniatis, who ran in the first round, has come out in support of Androulakis.