Parties meet as dissent grows

The parliamentary parties of PASOK and New Democracy are convening on Saturday as the bill for the implementation of the new loan contract is tabled in Parliament.

The bill, tabled on Saturday morning through the express procedure so as to be voted on Sunday night, is the object of debate at the parliamentary party meetings of the only two parties left in the government.

The question is whether party leaders George Papandreou of PASOK and Antonis Samaras of New Democracy will force their deputies to vote for the new loan agreement, threatening to remove them from their party otherwise.

State television channel NET reported that the cabinet approved of the agreement in a lengthy session on Friday night, although Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis is said to have expressed strong reservations.

Estimates put the number of government deputies who may vote No on Sunday night up to 50. Even in such a case, however, the bill should become law with a comfortable majority.

The passing of the bill is an absolute prerequisite for Greece to secure the second bailout package that will prevent a default next month.

While the two parties? deputies will have their meeting, the country?s two main unions, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and the Civil Servants? Union (ADEDY) will hold another protest rally outside Parliament.

The departure of all four cabinet members belonging to Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and of two belonging to PASOK allows Prime Minister Lucas Papademos to proceed to a reshuffle, which is expected for Monday.