NEWS

Coalition loses two lawmakers over measures

Two lawmakers who were part of the governing coalition were on their way out of their respective parties on Monday, reducing to 176 the number of deputies Prime Minister Antonis Samaras can turn to in the crucial vote on the latest austerity package over the next few days.

Samaras ordered that Nikos Stavrogiannis, a New Democracy deputy for Fthiotida, be expelled from the conservatives? parliamentary group after the lawmaker said he would not vote for the latest cost-cutting measures. The premier also asked the party?s ethics committee to decided whether Stavrogiannis should be expelled completely from the party.

Also Monday, Yiannis Micheloyiannakis, an MP with junior coalition partner Democratic Left, quit the party due to a disagreement over the content of the austerity package. The Cretan lawmaker made it known a few weeks ago that he would not support the measures. Two more of the party?s deputies have indicated they will not vote for the package, which is set to be brought to Parliament at the end of this month or the beginning of November.

The coalition faces a test in Parliament on Tuesday when MPs will debate and vote on legislation that will facilitate privatizations. PASOK MP Paris Koukoulopoulos suggested on Monday that a clause should be inserted requiring Parliament to approve each sell off.