Papandreou vows to press on
As thousands protest in central Athens, PM says he is undeterred by lack of consensus among political parties
Prime Minister George Papandreou vowed yesterday to continue with the overhaul of Greece’s public finances despite his inability to agree on measures with the leaders of opposition parties, while in the largest demonstration so far from the “Indignant” movement in Athens, thousands protested austerity measures.
Speaking from Kalavryta in the Peloponnese, Papandreou said he had not been deterred by two failed attempts last week to obtain crossparty support for fiscal measures. “I will do my duty, I am not interested in petty party political games, nor in political cost,” said the prime minister, who added that Greece would prove the “naysayers” wrong.
“We are in the first year of a three-year effort,” he noted. The prime minister said that he was optimistic Greece would have a primary budget surplus by next year.
However, Papandreou came under attack from his political rivals over the weekend. The leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, accused Papandreou of attempting to bypass the will of the Greek people by suggesting during the leaders’ meeting on Friday the idea of bringing opposition politicians or other figures not aligned to any of the parties into the government. “It is not enough that they handed the economy over to the bankers, now they want to hand over the popular mandate,” Tsipras told SYRIZA members.
Speaking at the congress of her centrist party, Democratic Alliance, Dora Bakoyannis, suggest- ed that Papandreou and the New Democracy leader were putting personal interest ahead of the country. “They want to be the drachma prime ministers,” she said.
Perhaps the strongest condemnation of the government, and the political system as a whole, came from protesters who gathered in Syntagma Square for a fifth consecutive day. It was the largest demonstration by the so-called Indignant movement, with estimates putting the crowd at anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people.