NEWS

Venizelos denies saying PASOK would quit gov't

Junior coalition partner leader Evangelos Venizelos insisted on Friday that he never suggested the socialists should quit the government in a speech to lawmakers aimed at boosting their morale amid increasing concerns about the likelihood of PASOK performing poorly in the May 25 European Parliament elections as part of the Olive Tree alliance.

"I never spoke about a withdrawal from the government," Venizelos said. "This is not a Samaras government and we are not associates or friends," he said, referring to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. "The government exists because we raised the issue of a cooperation of European democratic forces."

The socialist leader rejected claims that he had resorted to scaremongering by suggesting that Elia required voters' support to ensure the stability of the government, saying he was simply stating facts. "Describing reality as it is is never coercive," he said. "I raised the basic question that everyone is raising."

Venizelos added that PASOK had been widely treated as "the easy target" for criticism and told MPs he "loves and feels for" them in view of the efforts they have made.

The socialist leader added that it was PASOK's intervention that had ensured that the social dividend being distributed to low-income citizens from Greece's primary surplus should not be subject to seizure by banks.

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