NEWS

PASOK MPs wavering over support for fiscal plan

As many as four PASOK deputies are considering not voting for the government?s medium-term fiscal plan in Parliament this week, leaving the ruling PASOK party with the slimmest of majorities to pass the new set of austerity measures through the House.

Greece has been told by its European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund that it has to pass the latest round of spending cuts and tax hikes in order to qualify for a July loan instalment of 12 billion euros and to move a step closer toward agreeing a second bailout with its lenders.

Without the July tranche, Greece will go bankrupt. However, the government and its new Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos have yet to convince all 155 Socialist MPs that they should back the midterm fiscal plan when Parliament concludes its debate and vote on Wednesday.

Kozani MP Alekos Athanasiadis insists he will oppose the measures. ?Nothing has changed for me,? he told Skai TV on Saturday. ?I want to make it clear that I will not vote for the midterm fiscal plan. I do not disagree with the government on a lot of points but I stick to my view that some public enterprises should not be sold.?

On Friday, Thomas Robopoulos, a Thessaloniki lawmaker, also said that he was considering opposing the measures. Robopoulos said he would probably quit Parliament after casting his vote against the PASOK government.

Robopoulos?s Thessaloniki colleague Chryssa Arapoglou has also indicated she is reluctant to approve the package and is considering quitting her post.

On Saturday, PASOK deputy Panayiotis Kouroublis also told Skai TV that he was in emotional turmoil over whether to support the government. ?For anyone who is an MP, these are the most torturous days of his life,? he said.

Kouroublis said he sent a note to Venizelos seeking clarification on 15 points and would wait for a response before making a final decision on how he would vote.

If all four MPs oppose the government, PASOK would be left with a one-seat majority unless it received support from another smaller party, such as the centrist Democratic Alliance. Venizelos acknowledged on Saturday that some of the measures are ?severe and unfair? but added that ?this is the only way at the moment that we can address an urgent national need.?

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