Skeptical MP hints he will vote for controversial measures

Thomas Robopoulos, one of the socialist deputies who have threatened to block the Socialist government?s new package of austerity measures – dubbed as the midterm fiscal program ? appeared to make a u-turn on Tuesday following talks with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos the previous day.

The Parliamentary debate on the measures is scheduled to culminate with a knife-edge vote Wednesday on the program and Thursday on a bill outlining the program?s implementation.

Foreign creditors have warned the debt-choked country that passing the program is a prerequisite for the release of the next tranche of rescue funding.

Speaking on Skai television on Tuesday morning, Robopoulos said he intended to decide ?at the very last moment, after I have listened to all the speakers.? However, he said: ?This is a crucial moment; if the memorandum does not pass we shall go bankrupt.?

?I cannot take such a decision. Let [Antonis] Samaras take it,? he said of the conservative opposition leader who has repeatedly voiced his strong opposition to the measures.

Venizelos on Monday sought to win around skeptical Socialist MPs to back the vote. Apart from Robopoulos, the newly-appointed finance minister also contacted PASOK deputy for Kozani, Alexandros Athanassiadis. Panayiotis Kouroublis and Chryssa Arapoglou have indicated that they too have serious doubts about the program.

Speaking on Skai, Robopoulos also criticized recent remarks by Theodoros Pangalos, the government?s outspoken deputy prime minister, who warned that unless lawmakers pass the austerity measures the government may be forced to call out tanks to prevent a run on the banks ? an image reminiscent of the 1967 military coup, one of the darkest days in the country’s modern history.

?Pangalos’s arguments have only made things more difficult for us. He is trying to put psychological pressure on the deputies, and that is not right,? he said.

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