Ex-ministers launch new socialist party

Two former ministers, Louka Katseli and Haris Kastanidis, launched a new party named ?Social Pact? on Wednesday, promising that they would provide ?realistic and radical policies? to tackle the economic crisis.

Katseli, who held the economy portfolio, and Kastanidis, who was justice minister, were ousted from PASOK when they voted against the terms of Greece?s new bailout. They were joined on Wednesday by five other ousted deputies from the Socialist party. It is possible that more may move to the new party before the general elections, which are likely to be held in early May.

?Between the catastrophic ?Yes to everything? and the baseless ?No to everything? there is always the option of negotiating,? said Katseli, who will be the party?s president. Kastanidis will head its parliamentary group.

Katseli said that the new bailout terms could have been more favorable for Greece but said that the ?political will and necessary courage? was lacking to secure them. She said the party would focus on creating a fairer tax system and stronger banking sector and halting the rising number of ?new poor and new homeless.?

Also on Wednesday, the eight ousted New Democracy MPs who have indicated they will join the right-wing party formed by colleague Panos Kammenos met in Parliament to discuss the formation of a parliamentary group. At least one more former conservative is expected to move to Kammenos?s Independent Greeks.

In response, New Democracy is expected to announce on Thursday that it is allowing five of the 21 MPs it expelled for rejecting the new bailout to return to the party.

The conservatives are concerned about more defections to the new party and the damage that Independent Greeks could do to ND at the elections if they manage to build up momentum over the next few weeks.

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