NEWS

PM confident of vote success but unrest continues

Prime Minister George Papandreou appeared confident on Friday that the government?s crucial medium-term fiscal plan would pass through Parliament next week despite continuing turmoil with the ruling PASOK party.

Papandreou appeared buoyed by the agreement of European Union leaders in Brussels to disburse a 12-billion-euro loan to Greece in July as long as the government passes its latest batch of austerity measures through Parliament. The EU leaders also agreed the outline of a second bailout, which could possibly reach 110 billion euros, but the details remain to be finalized.

Facing journalists on Friday, the premier indicated he was sure that the midterm fiscal plan will get the necessary votes in Parliament on Wednesday, which is a condition that the EU leaders set for the loan to be paid to Greece.

?We have a difficult path ahead of us but it is preferable to bankruptcy,? he said. ?I believe that the majority of those in the Greek Parliament understand this.?

In their summit conclusions the EU leaders called on ?all political parties in Greece to support the program?s main objectives,? saying ?national unity is a prerequisite for success.?

Papandreou said he would reach out to other parties in a bid to reform Greece?s tax system but the possibility of creating any alliances ahead of next week?s vote is virtually nonexistent. In fact, the prime minister could have his work cut out trying to convince all of his MPs to vote for the austerity package.

PASOK currently has 155 seats in Parliament, giving it a majority of five. However, Kozani deputy Alekos Athanasiadis has said he will oppose the measures because he is against the privatization of the Public Power Corporation. On Friday, another deputy, Thomas Robopoulos, said he would also vote against the fiscal plan.

?I am not flinching at the threat that we will not get our next loan installment,? he said, lashing out against Greece?s creditors for imposing the latest cuts despite opposition from PASOK MPs. ?We took some decisions about the midterm plan but when Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos took them to the troika, they rejected them. Well, if the troika wants to rule this land, let them do so.?

Robopoulos indicated he might give up his seat in Parliament after voting against the measures.