Bid for unity on re­forms

PM seeks to over­come party rifts on midterm pro­gram amid re­ports of ref­er­en­dum

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou yes­ter­day sought to over­come re­ported rifts be­tween min­is­ters and get his Cabi­net be­hind the gov­ern­ment’s midterm pro­gram, which is to be sub­mit­ted in Par­lia­ment by the end of this week, as spec­u­la­tion mounted about the mea­sures be­ing put to a ref­er­en­dum.

The premier re­port­edly ruled out the prospect of early elec­tions – which has been the sub­ject of fever­ish spec­u­la­tion – and made it clear that the cur­rent pri­or­ity was ap­prov­ing the pro­gram which is to go to Par­lia­ment in the form of one bill de­spite calls by some MPs for it to be bro­ken down into sep­a­rate ar­ti­cles. Ac­cord­ing to sources, the prospect of some of the pro­posed re­forms be­ing put to a ref­er­en­dum was not ruled out by the PM.

The pro­gram – which out­lines a new raft of aus­ter­ity mea­sures in­clud­ing tax in­creases and dras­tic cuts to pub­lic spend­ing – is be dis­cussed over the next two days by the party’s po­lit­i­cal coun­cil and other party or­gans where op­po­si­tion is ex­pected to be more ve­he­ment.

Al­ready sev­eral MPs of so­cial­ist PASOK have said they in­tend to vote against the bill. Ac­cord­ing to sources, the voices of dis­sent have mul­ti­plied since last Thurs­day when a group of PASOK deputies sent a letter to Pa­pan­dreou ask­ing for the midterm pro­gram to be thor­oughly de­bated be­fore be­ing voted on in Par­lia­ment.

Greece’s in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors are not so keen on lengthy dis­cus­sions; they want the pro­gram pushed through Par­lia­ment as soon as pos­si­ble so that its im­ple­men­ta­tion can be­gin.

As Pa­pan­dreou seeks to win in­ter­nal sup­port for his gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic pro­gram, the leader of the main con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy, An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras, is seek­ing to woo Euro­pean politi­cians in a bid to gain sup­port for the rene­go­ti­a­tion of Greece’s loan agree­ment with its cred­i­tors.

Sa­ma­ras wants Greece’s mem­o­ran­dum to in­clude tax re­duc­tions, not hikes, and is propos­ing a rene­go­ti­a­tion along the lines of deals reached by Por­tu­gal and Ire­land with their in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors. The ND leader is to­day to meet French Prime Min­is­ter Fran­cois Fil­lon in Paris be­fore trav­el­ing to Brus­sels to­mor­row for talks with Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Her­man Van Rom­puy and Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jose Manuel Bar­roso.

Smaller op­po­si­tion groups were seek­ing al­liances closer to home. The head of the Coali­tion of the Rad­i­cal Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, in­vited the Com­mu­nist Party (KKE) to join a broader left­ist coali­tion. There had been no re­sponse from KKE by late last night.

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