Political bartering rife before polls

MPs eager to push through last-minute amendments to laws before the anticipated dissolution of Parliament next week had submitted more than 90 proposals by late Tuesday night despite reports of growing frustration with these tactics in the office of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

Dozens of deputies, chiefly from socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy, have submitted a raft of proposed amendments to the ministries of Interior, Development, Transport and Labor which need to be voted through Parliament by next Wednesday if snap polls are to be held on May 6, as expected.

State Minister Giorgos Stavropoulos, who was tasked with perusing all the amendments, had looked over them all by late Tuesday, according to government sources who told Kathimerini that all proposed changes were likely to be rejected. The same sources said that after having strong words with his ministers, Papademos was determined to put a stop to attempts by MPs trying to secure preferential treatment for supporters.

Following talks with Papademos, Stavropoulos reportedly asked Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos to press the heads of the parties? parliamentary groups to refrain from submitting any more amendments.

Meanwhile an e-mail was sent out from the premier?s office to ministers asking them to brief the PM, and Stavropoulos, as to whether they plan to adopt any of the proposed amendments. The message noted that in view of the time pressure, amendments should only be adopted in ?exceptional circumstances.?

The 92 proposed amendments seek a series of reforms ranging from exemptions from public sector wage cuts to the granting of fishing licenses to all small boats.

In a related development on Tuesday, Transport Minister Makis Voridis, who was forced to retract a proposed amendment of his own earlier this week, agreed to revise his suggested changes to laws governing the taxi drivers? profession following the opposition of PASOK.

Voridis, who is affiliated with ND, had tried to pass an amendment imposing certain restrictions on the road haulage sector — one of several closed professions, along with that of taxi drivers, which Greece has pledged its foreign creditors that it will open.