Political tensions peak in Parliament

Prime Minister George Papandreou fielded vehement criticism from opposition leaders in a heated session in Parliament on Friday, insisting that the first signs of Greece?s recovery from the economic crisis were already evident and calling on his rivals to offer proposals rather than seek to score political points.

?Step by step, we will make it. We are here to change Greece and not to mourn our fate,? Papandreou said during a debate in Parliament. ?It will take effort though, we are still at the beginning,? he added.

Launching a fiery tirade, the leader of the main conservative opposition New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, declared that the premier?s approach is not working.

?You cannot even win round your own MPs,? he remarked. He added that the economic policy being implemented by the government was dangerous, strangling growth and boosting unemployment. ?Change it now,? he said.

Samaras responded angrily when the prime minister suggested that the opposition leader was ?stuck in the past? and was too willing to defend former ND premier Costas Karamanlis.

Samaras accused Papandreou of having lost touch with reality. ?You spoke of the previous prime minister: In you I already see the previous prime minister,? Samaras said. Papandreou also came under fire from the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, who referred to ?a frightened government.? ?Your time in politics is running out,? Tsipras said. ?You have a majority in Parliament but not among the people,? he added. The SYRIZA leader echoed Samaras, noting that several senior cadres of ruling PASOK, including Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, were calling on Papandreou to ?tell the whole truth.?

In a related development, sources told Kathimerini that Papandreou?s office is concerned about an increasing number of members of PASOK?s parliamentary group that have been criticizing the government?s decisions in public.

The government?s progress in pushing through reforms aimed at reducing a gaping budget deficit and raising much-needed revenue is to come under the microscope again next week when representatives of the country?s international creditors – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – are due in Athens.

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