Elections, reshuffle on agenda ahead of leaders’ meeting

With the options of snap elections, a referendum or a cabinet reshuffle all still on the agenda, Prime Minister George Papandreou will meet with the leaders of all the opposition parties on Friday in an apparent bid to brief them on the seriousness of the situation facing Greece and to achieve some form of consensus on the measures that need to be adopted.

Greece has been coming under increasing pressure to achieve political consensus over the austerity measures and structural reforms that need to be adopted in the coming months.

Papandreou failed in an attempt to find common ground with the opposition leaders earlier this week and is hoping that a new meeting, which will be chaired by President Karolos Papoulias, might push the politicians to achieve some kind of agreement.

Antonis Samaras of New Democracy, Giorgos Karatzaferis of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and Alexis Tsipras of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) refused to give their across-the-board consent for further tax hikes and the start of a privatization program. Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga refused to attend the meeting.

These types of meetings, between all the party leaders and chaired by the president, are relatively rare although Papandreou did hold one at the beginning of his premiership which was aimed at achieving common position on fighting corruption.

However, the good will of PASOK?s first weeks in power has now disappeared and it seems unlikely that Papandreou will be able to gain any significant concessions from the opposition leaders. One option that he is considering, according to sources, is to propose a cabinet reshuffle that would lead to some non-PASOK officials being brought into the government. There has been some discussion about respected figures or technocrats who do not have a political background being brought into the Cabinet and this option is likely to please Samaras and Karatzaferis.

Speaking on Thursday, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said that Greece was at a crucial crossroads. ?We are between a hard road and a destructive road,? he said, while insisting that the government had no plans to quit the eurozone.

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