A bid by Prime Minister George Papandreou to curb a trend of escalating violence by demonstrators, particularly against politicians, appeared to fall flat on Thursday after his political rivals refused to back the formation of a cross-party committee to discuss the problem. Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos announced that the matter would be addressed by an existing cross-party transparency committee.
The original proposal, submitted to Petsalnikos by Papandreou on Wednesday, was rejected almost immediately by opposition parties.
The main conservative opposition New Democracy conceded that the issue merited discussion but rejected Papandreou?s suggestion. ?The government cannot keep choosing the easy option of setting up cross-party committees for every issue that arises,? ND spokesman Yiannis Michelakis said.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) — which many government officials have accused of instigating assaults against ruling party cadres — stated outright that it would not participate in a cross-party committee discussing violence.
The Communist Party was negative too, claiming that Papandreou?s initiative signaled ?new repressive measures against the people.?
Smaller parties such as the centrist Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Left were reportedly more open to the original proposal.
Government spokesman Ilias Mossialos insisted that the problem was very serious and suggested the government had inside information about further violent attacks. ?We have indications that there will be an escalation in tensions,? he said, adding, ?These issues must be discussed, and very soon.?