Government braces for crucial votes
Socialist MPs seem to close ranks behind premier and Cabinet with a view to poll on midterm plan
Prime Minister George Papandreou and his new Cabinet were widely expected late last night to secure a vote of confidence that would also buoy the ruling Socialists ahead of a vote next Tuesday on a new raft of austerity measures and ease the concerns of the country’s foreign creditors.
Papandreou, who is tomorrow to travel again to Brussels following a scheduled session of his new Cabinet today, appeared to have succeeded in instilling some discipline in his party with last week’s reshuffle.
Following a week of political turmoil that saw two Socialist party MPs, Giorgos Floridis and Ektoras Nasiokas, give up their seats in Parliament, PASOK deputies apparently closed ranks yesterday with none suggesting that they would withhold their vote of confidence. Still some skeptics indicated that their backing was not unconditional. Panayiotis Kouroublis, who has indicated in recent weeks that he might vote against the government’s midterm program, told Parliament, “I will vote for the government tonight but that does not mean I’m giving it carte blanche.”
One development that caused a stir last night was a decision by Andreas Makrypidis – a Socialist MP who had been given the task of submitting the government’s midterm program in Parliament – to step aside. Makrypidis cited “personal reasons” though sources said he was angered at not being elevated to a ministry position in the recent cabinet reshuffle.
In a related development, the Council of State deemed that the memorandum – Greece’s agreement with its creditors to implement reforms in exchange for emergency funding – was constitutional. The court threw out appeals by the Athens Bar Association, the civil servants’ union ADEDY and GSEE, which represents workers in the private sector.
Also yesterday, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – known as the ALDE group – adopted a proposal for an alternative to the Greek government’s austerity program made by former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who leads the centrist Democratic Alliance party. Bakoyannis’s proposal does not focus on public sector spending cuts and tax increases but foresees the creation of a national investment fund that would be partly financed by revenue from the privatization of state assets.