PASOK MP quits, reducing government majority

Former minister and PASOK MP Giorgos Lianis quit the party on Tuesday in protest at the midterm fiscal plan the government is due to submit to Parliament, thereby reducing the ruling Socialists? majority to just five.

?We failed and now we are trying to hide the truth from the people,? said Lianis in a statement.

The government had 156 of the 300 seats in Parliament, having already lost four MPs since it came to power in November 2009.

Lianis, a deputy culture and sports minister, had been a PASOK deputy for Florina in northern Greece since 1989. He said was not willing to give up his seat in Parliament, which would have allowed PASOK to replace him with another candidate.

A second PASOK MP, Alexandros Athanasiadis, said that he would vote against the midterm plan but gave no indication of wanting to leave the party or give up his seat.

?I am ready to assume my responsibilities,? said Athanasiadis, who would not be drawn on whether there are other members of the ruling center-left party considering voting against the latest batch of austerity measures.

Without Athanasiadis, who represents the Kozani constituency in northern Greece, the government?s majority would drop to four, putting more pressure on Prime Minister George Papandreou and his ministers, who have been heavily criticized for the further tax hikes and public spending cuts included in the fiscal plan.

A parliamentary committee is due to begin reviewing the bill on Wednesday. This process will last until the end of the week and the committee is due to sit again for a second review a week later. The draft law is likely to be submitted in Parliament on June 27 or 28 before a vote on June 30. It is possible that the vote will be delayed by a week.

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