NEWS

Upheaval in coalition parties after departures

There was fresh upheaval in PASOK on Thursday after the decision by outspoken MP Mimis Androulakis to quit the Socialists, following the ejection of six lawmakers who voted against a new austerity package in Parliament, reduced the ranks of the beleaguered party to just 26.

The tough stance displayed by PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos (photo) was echoed Thursday by party sources who told Kathimerini that the defectors had not only been removed from the parliamentary group but from the party as a whole and that they would be obliged to reapply to join PASOK at their local constituencies if they wanted to return to the fold.

The reactions of the ousted deputies varied. Markos Bolaris accused Venizelos of shifting to the right, claiming that the PASOK chief had banished MPs with ?justifiable political objections.? Costas Skandalidis, a veteran party official and former minister who had been regarded as a likely challenger to Venizelos for the PASOK leadership, refused to comment on criticism of his decision to be absent from Thursday?s vote on the measures.

The decision of Androulakis to declare himself an independent MP on Thursday, after toeing the PASOK party line and voting in favor of the austerity package, drew criticism, with some interpreting his mixed signals as an attempt to preserve the status quo.

Growing debate about a possible government reshuffle was played down by sources in PASOK who said that Venizelos remained focused on keeping the government and country in one piece.

However in the ranks of Democratic Left, the smallest party in the coalition, there was reportedly talk about the preferences of party leader Fotis Kouvelis in the event of a reshuffle.

As for the two MPs who broke from the party line of voting ?present? on the austerity package and voted ?no,? sources indicated that the aim was to marginalize them, particularly if they vote down the 2013 budget on Sunday as is expected. Democratic Left?s charter does not foresee the ejection of MPs so the preference would be for Odysseas Voudouris and Paris Moutsinas to take the initiative and declare themselves independent.

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