LAOS leader ponders party exiting Parliament

Giorgos Karatzaferis the leader of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), created a stir on the Greek political scene on Wednesday by claiming that he is considering withdrawing his right-wing party from Parliament.

?I am seriously thinking about pulling LAOS out of Parliament in the hope that it will serve as a slap to a system that is in a comatose state,? he told Antenna TV.

The nationalists have 15 seats in the 300-seat Parliament and were his MPs to resign, it would lead to fresh elections having to be held in 12 of the country?s 57 constituencies. Karatzaferis said that he has asked for a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias as soon as he returns from a trip to Germany.

He also met with Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday. The talks with Venizelos were of particular interest to political commentators as the minister had run against Prime Minister George Papandreou for the leadership of PASOK and is seen by some within the Socialist party as a potential successor to the current premier.

?The only concern of all political powers is for parliamentary institutions to be protected,? Venizelos said after the meeting, suggesting that Karatzaferis had simply put an ?idea? forward and that everyone should wait for his meeting with Papoulias.

Karatzaferis appears to have sensed an opportunity for his party, which got 5.6 percent of the vote in the 2009 general election, to punch above its weight. He was willing to cooperate both with PASOK and New Democracy to agree on a package of austerity measures and economic reforms. But his overtures have been rejected by ND and the LAOS leader seems to have decided that the lack of consensus means the current Parliament cannot respond to the debt crisis facing Greece.

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