Government officials had a difficult day in Parliament on Wednesday, fielding criticism from opposition politicians, the most vehement from the leader of the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatzaferis, who accused both main parties of involvement in a string of corruption scandals and called for early general elections.
Christos Protopappas, the head of ruling PASOK?s parliamentary group, ruled out snap polls, stating that general elections would be held as scheduled in 2013 when the government?s four-year term expires. Protopappas added that everything possible would be done to shed light on the alleged involvement of MPs in corruption scandals including the Siemens cash-for-contracts affair.
Protopappas was responding to harsh statements by LAOS leader Karatzaferis, who described the ruling Socialists and the main conservative opposition New Democracy party as ?Siamese twins,? noting that politicians from both parties were implicated in several scandals including the Siemens affair and the case regarding some 100 million euros in under-the-table payments to Greek politicians in the purchase of four German submarines. Karatzaferis declared that the ruling party had lost the popular mandate and had no option but to proceed to snap elections.
Apart from prompting a sharp response from Protopappas and Regional Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis – who insisted that PASOK and ND were ?very different? – Karatzaferis?s words also sparked an angry reaction from Costas Markopoulos, the spokesman for ND?s parliamentary group. Markopoulos suggested that the LOAS leader?s outrage was hypocritical as his party had supported the government?s austerity drive by voting for the so-called ?memorandum? – the pact signed between Greece and its international creditors foreseeing the exchange of 110 billion euros in loans for a raft of austerity measures.
On Wednesday evening Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou met visiting envoys for talks that focused on tactics for raising much-needed revenue. According to sources, the envoys pushed for the launch of a much-delayed privatization program and cutbacks at state companies.
Meanwhile ND leader Antonis Samaras said that the crisis offered an opportunity to implement ?innovative changes? in the economy as well as other crucial sectors such as education and health.