Venizelos sees troika deal soon as eight MPs call for consensus over president

Although Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos suggested on Friday that an agreement between Greece and the troika is possible before December 15, the government is keeping its options open regarding its next steps.

Venizelos met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday morning and, according to sources, the two men agreed that the government would make an attempt to bridge its differences with the troika as long as it does not involve having to adopt further measures.

“The troika will return,” said Venizelos at a PASOK meeting later in the day. “We have the possibility of achieving a technical-level agreement before the teleconference planned for December 15.”

The government is not willing to make further troika-mandated changes to a recent law allowing overdue debts to the state to be repaid in up to 100 installments. However, Venizelos suggested that the government will try to limit the number of people who can make use of the payment plan.

Troika sources remained skeptical about whether an agreement could be reached in the next few days and suggested that Athens may have to apply for a brief bailout extension pending such a deal.

The timing of a settlement with the troika could also affect domestic political developments. If there is a bailout extension and an agreement is reached in January, then the date of the presidential elections, which are due in mid-February will not be affected. The possibility of the ballot being held earlier if events pan out differently is also being considered by the government.

Calls for consensus ahead of the presidential vote grew on Friday when eight MPs, five independents and three from Democratic Left, submitted a proposal to Parliament for there to be an agreement between the government and the opposition. The lawmakers said the two sides should pick a common candidate, approve constitutional reforms and set a date for parliamentary elections in 2015.

The proposal was dismissed by SYRIZA. Leftist MP Dimitris Vitsas accused the lawmakers of putting the “prolongation of their stint in Parliament” above everything else and of submitting the suggestion in agreement with the government.