NEWS

PM pushes ‘road map’ for survival

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is on Tuesday due to meet his predecessor, socialist PASOK leader George Papandreou, completing a series of meetings with the heads of the three parties in his fragile coalition that he began just before Christmas with the aim of securing their support for his government?s difficult reform drive.

According to sources, Papademos has presented party leaders with a three-point ?road map? that the government must follow if Greece is to avoid defaulting on its massive debt.

This road map is widely seen as having been imposed by the country?s international creditors, the same sources said, noting that the creditors would regard a dissolution of the Greek government and early elections at this crucial stage as tantamount to bankruptcy.

It appears that Papademos relayed this message on Friday evening to the leaders of the two smallest parties in his tripartite coalition, as they both appeared to fall into line behind him. In particular conservative New Democracy, which had been pressing for snap polls, softened its demands, indicating that the government would stay in place until it had completed its chief goal of implementing reforms agreed with Greece?s foreign creditors at a European Union summit on October 26, and concluding negotiations on a private sector plan — dubbed PSI+ — for a haircut on Greek bonds.

Papademos is not expected to face any pressure for snap polls or resistance to reforms from Papandreou, who launched Greece?s austerity drive during his term, but he is expected to press the Socialist leader to tackle the growing dissent in his own party by addressing an issue of leadership that has been raised by several cadres.

PASOK?s political council is to convene later on Tuesday and Papandreou is expected to face intense calls from within his party to launch proceedings for a leadership contest.

Pressure has been growing on Papandreou to step aside for a leadership challenge since Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis threw his hat into the ring. Several other cabinet members, including Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, subsequently suggested that they would join the race.