PASOK ap­peal to skep­tics

As cru­cial vote looms, PM, Venize­los call on wa­ver­ing deputies to show sense of duty

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los yes­ter­day sought to win around skep­ti­cal So­cial­ist MPs to back a cru­cial vote on the gov­ern­ment’s new pack­age of aus­ter­ity mea­sures – dubbed as the midterm fis­cal pro­gram – that for­eign cred­i­tors have said is a pre­req­ui­site for the re­lease of the next tranche of res­cue fund­ing.

In a speech be­fore Par­lia­ment – launch­ing a de­bate on the mea­sures that is to cul­mi­nate with votes on Wed­nes­day on the midterm pro­gram and Thurs­day on a bill out­lin­ing the pro­gram’s im­ple­men­ta­tion – Pa­pan­dreou called on rul­ing party MPs to “do their duty” and pass the mea­sures. Push­ing the bills through Par­lia­ment is the only way to save the coun­try from bank­ruptcy and set it on the path to eco­nomic re­cov­ery, he said. Ap­prov­ing the pro­gram “will bring to an end a chap­ter of un­cer­tainty and open the door to a new, hopeful be­gin­ning.” It would “guar­an­tee the sta­bil­ity of our coun­try in the medium term so that we can pay salaries and pen­sions,” he added.

But the pre­req­ui­site is that MPs do their duty, he con­cluded. “It’s a tough duty but a nec­es­sary one, putting the good of the nation above nar­row party po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests.”

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los also did his best to im­press upon MPs of all po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions that the aus­ter­ity pro­gram was the bet­ter of two evils for Greece. The min­is­ter met with PASOK deputy for Kozani, Alexan­dros Athanas­siadis, the only So­cial­ist to have stated cat­e­gor­i­cally that he will vote against the pro­gram. Venize­los also spoke by tele­phone with Thomas Robopou­los, who is also wa­ver­ing ahead of the vote.

Panayi­o­tis Kourou­b­lis and Chryssa Ara­poglou have in­di­cated that they too have se­ri­ous doubts about the pro­gram.Mean­while, rifts have also ap­peared in the ranks of con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy ahead of the vote. Yes­ter­day, ND deputy Elsa Pa­padim­itriou in­di­cated that she might go against the party line and vote for the mea­sures, not­ing that now was a time “to put the good of the nation above party in­ter­ests.”

Later in the day Venize­los re­buffed fu­ri­ous crit­i­cism of the midterm pro­gram by op­po­si­tion MPs in Par­lia­ment, em­pha­siz­ing that the mea­sures might be “tough and even un­fair” but that they were un­avoid­able. “We have to fi­nally come to our senses and get se­ri­ous,” he said.

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