NEWS

Samaras resolve put to the test

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is due to come under intense scrutiny over his party?s reluctance to back the latest round of austerity measures in Greece on Thursday when he attends a meeting in Brussels of the European People?s Party, the collection of the continent?s center-right political groups.

Sources said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel may seek to meet Samaras on the sidelines of Thursday?s meeting to discuss his objections to the measures.

Samaras explained why he is opposed to the government?s fiscal policy in an interview with the Financial Times. ?They?re asking me to support the same kind of medicine for someone who is dying from that medicine,? he said.

?Liquidity is the top, top, top problem of the economy. Imagine what happens in the real economy when there is no private spending, no government spending and no foreign direct investment. Everything is closing down.?

Samaras is also facing some pressure from his own MPs. Deputy Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested he would vote for the midterm fiscal plan if the government needs an extra vote for the measures to be passed.

Sources said some conservative MPs were unhappy about having to walk out of Parliament during Tuesday?s vote of confidence debate.

ND?s parliamentary group secretary Costas Tasoulas ordered the lawmakers to leave after Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos said the PASOK government elected in 1981 was Greece?s first truly freely elected administration.

The MPs came back after Prime Minister George Papandreou acknowledged the role of ND founder Constantine Karamanlis in the return of democracy to Greece following the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974.