Kouvelis: ‘PM thought he had us on a hook’

Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis said in a scathing attack against Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s decision to shut down state broadcaster ERT that he “tried to back us into a corner, because he thought he had us on a hook.”

Speaking on Skai television’s New Files current affairs program on Tuesday night, the leader of the party that withdrew from the Greek government coalition on June 21 over a dispute regarding the closure of the state broadcaster, argued that the prime minister would have gone back on his decision if he had not received the backing of Evangelos Venizelos, the chief of PASOK and the second partner in the coalition.

“New Democracy does not behave like a democratic party,” Kouvelis said in reference to Samaras’s decision to shut down ERT for restructuring. He added that “the prime minister is surrounded by a group of people who make the decisions and impose their opinions.”

Kouvelis also said that he wondered whether the decision to shut down ERT had been first approved by New Democracy officials before it was announced by the prime minister’s office.

The head of the small leftist party was also critical of Venizelos, saying that the socialist chief had already decided to remain in the government before the June 20 emergency meeting that caused the rift in the coalition, and backed down from his original position over ERT.

Kouvelis added that Samaras had been pondering snap elections, but rejected the idea after being pressured against this course of action by Greece’s creditors, who want to see Athens implement much-delayed structural reforms in exchange for life-saving bailout funding.

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