Eleventh-hour ef­fort to se­cure vote

Two main par­ties en­gage in last-ditch bid to woo dis­senters be­fore cru­cial bal­lot on aus­ter­ity mea­sures

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With just a few hours to go be­fore a crit­i­cal vote in Par­lia­ment on a new pack­age of aus­ter­ity mea­sures, rul­ing PASOK and the main op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy party re­port­edly made a last-ditch at­tempt to win round dis­senters stray­ing from party lines.

Sources told Kathimerini that se­nior lawmakers in the So­cial­ist and con­ser­va­tive camps met with or tele­phoned dis­si­dent MPs ahead of to­day’s knife-edge vote. Al­though rul­ing PASOK has a five-seat ma­jor­ity in the 300-seat Par­lia­ment, one MP has stated out­right that he will vote against the aus­ter­ity mea­sures and at least three oth­ers have ex­pressed se­ri­ous reser­va­tions.

PASOK’s Kozani deputy

Alexan­dros Athanasiadis re­port­edly stuck to his guns yes­ter­day de­spite party pres­sure, in­sist­ing that he would vote against the aus­ter­ity plan. His chief ob­jec­tion is against plans to re­duce the state’s stake in the Pub­lic Power Com­pany to 34 per­cent from 51 per­cent. His con­stituency, in north­east­ern Greece, is home to sev­eral PPC plants which em­ploy thou­sands of lo­cals.

Other PASOK dis­senters ap­peared to soften their stance yes­ter­day. Thomas Robopou­los, who last week­end sug­gested he would vote against the aus­ter­ity bill, ap­peared to be re­con­sid­er­ing his po­si­tion fol­low­ing talks with Fi­nance Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los on Mon­day. Speak­ing on Skai TV yes­ter­day morn­ing, Robopou­los said that he would de- cide “at the very last mo­ment, af­ter I have lis­tened to all the speak­ers.” “This is a cru­cial mo­ment; if the mem­o­ran­dum does not pass we shall go bank­rupt,” he added, re­fer­ring to the new aus­ter­ity pack­age.

The stances of PASOK deputies Panayi­o­tis Kourou­b­lis and Chryssa Ara­poglou, who have also ex­pressed se­ri­ous doubts about the pro­gram, re­mained un­clear yes­ter­day.

There were also re­ports yes­ter­day of pres­sure be­ing ap­plied on mav­er­icks within the ranks of ND too. Elsa Pa­padim­itriou, an ND deputy who sug­gested ear­lier this week that she would go against the party line and vote for the mea­sures, was be­lieved to be the fo­cus of ND concern. Sources sug­gested that dis- sen­ters would be ejected from the party.

The three other main par­ties in Par­lia­ment are ex­pected to op­pose the mea­sures. But it re­mained un­clear how smaller group­ings would po­si­tion them­selves. Dora Bakoy­an­nis, a for­mer ND for­eign min­is­ter and head of the Demo­cratic Al­liance cen­ter-right party, did not de­ter­mine how her party’s five mem­bers would vote but called for “votes of con­science.”

Even if the gov­ern­ment wins to­day’s vote it is not nec­es­sar­ily home free as to­mor­row’s vote – on a bill out­lin­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the mea­sures set out in the first bill – must also be se­cured if the next tranche of res­cue fund­ing is to be re­leased by the coun­try’s cred­i­tors and snap elec­tions are to be averted.

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