NEWS

PASOK’s internal divisions deepen

MPs call off meeting on multi-bill vote as Papandreou insists he is not a threat to party

PASOK MPs gathered on Tuesday to discuss the fallout from the multi-bill vote on Sunday night, when former party leader George Papandreou and Socialist veteran Apostolos Kaklamanis failed to support one of the articles, but the mood was so tense that the meeting broke up before a thorough discussion could take place.

The meeting of the party’s parliamentary group ended when Thanos Moraitis and Costas Triantafyllou walked out after complaining that the criticism being aimed at Papandreou from other deputies was unfair and damaging for the party’s unity. Earlier, other MPs had expressed dismay at Papandreou and Kaklamanis’s failure to support both articles of the omnibus bill.

Papandreou’s decision to oppose legislation that allows the Hellenic Financial Stability Facility (HFSF) to suffer a loss on the shares it has bought in Greek banks reopened a long-running and bitter dispute with Evangelos Venizelos, his successor as PASOK leader and the coalition’s deputy prime minister. The latter allegedly launched a stinging verbal attack against Papandreou at his office in Parliament and criticized both dissenting MPs publicly.

Venizelos stopped short of ousting the two lawmakers as that would have led to the government losing its parliamentary majority. Papandreou insisted Tuesday that he has no intention of threatening the coalition’s stability but his vote against the article was a “principled stance.”

“I did not and I would not jeopardize the majority in Parliament,” he told Bloomberg TV. “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.”

Papandreou insisted that the government could see out its four-year term, which ends in 2016. But the latest round of infighting has prompted concern about whether PASOK will be able to be a steady coalition partner, especially if it performs poorly as part of the Olive Tree alliance at the May 25 European Parliament elections.

It is indicative of the climate within PASOK that sources close to Venizelos suggested Papandreou is deliberately trying to undermine the Olive Tree, which he has refused to back. Sources close to the ex-premier, though, argued that Venizelos is simply trying to find excuses because he knows the election results will be disappointing.

Former PASOK MP and minister Theodoros Pangalos suggested he might not even vote for the Socialist party. “I am in half a mind to vote for [New Democracy leader Antonis] Samaras to ensure there is political stability,” he told Vima FM.

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