NEWS

'I would never jeopardize parliamentary majority,' Papandreou says

Former PM rules out speculation he plans to form his own political party

Two days after voting against changes to the bank capitalization framework, former Prime Minister and PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday said he would never jeopardize the government's parliamentary majority, while ruling out speculation that he plans to form his own political party.

“It was a principled stance. I would vote against this if a similar vote came to the parliament,” Papandreou told Bloomberg.

“I can understand that in very difficult circumstances we may need at some points to privatize with the taxpayer taking a hit. But to put that into law so that this is sort of a policy ad infinitum, particularly when Greeks have sacrificed so much, to take the losses again and again for bailouts of banks, I am against that in principle,” he said.

On Sunday, Papandreou voted against the omnibus bill’s second article, which seeks to create a new legal framework for banks. Veteran PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis voted “present” for the same article.

The government won the vote with 152 MPs supporting the first article and 151 the second. PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos did not choose to eject the two lawmakers from PASOK’s parliamentary group, as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras did with New Democracy deputy Nikitas Kaklamanis, who did not vote for both articles.

Kaklamanis’s ouster meant that the government went down to 152 seats in Parliament. If Venizelos had taken the same action against the two PASOK MPs that failed to provide full support, the coalition would have lost its two-seat support, putting its future in serious doubt.

“I did not and I would not jeopardize the majority in Parliament. This was a personal vote, a political vote and it was of course a statement on some of the things which I think that we need to see not only in Greece but in Europe. Because we have systemic problems around the banking crisis,” Papandreou said.

“We haven't moved far [on these],” he added.

Asked whether the government can bring the adjustment program to a successful closure and stay in power until 2016, Papandreou said he believed the coalition could complete its four-year term.

“I think it's possible,” Papandreou said making clear that he will continue to support the coalition.

Venizelos's predecessor also ruled out speculation that he plans to step down from PASOK, the once-dominant party founded by his father Andreas Papandreou, and establish his own political party.

“These are simply rumors,” he said.

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