New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited schools, churches and working-class neighborhoods this week in a bid to “debunk the myth” that the SYRIZA-led coalition is championing the interests of the working classes.
“SYRIZA’s social sensitivity toward weaker social groups is nothing but a myth,” Mitsotakis said Friday during a visit to the working-class area of Peristeri as the SYRIZA government – which swept to power on an anti-austerity ticket – comes under increasing pressure over the new batch of measures it must pass through Parliament to complete the review of the country’s third bailout and unlock vital rescue funds.
According to conservative officials, Mitsotakis’s remarks reflect the effort to “deconstruct” SYRIZA’s image as a socially sensitive party and illustrate how its policies affect the privileged and non-privileged in equal measure.
“The weakest ones are the ones who are first impacted by the direct taxes, which Parliament will vote through at the weekend,” Mitsotakis said, adding that the government’s measures “will sink the economy and undermine its recovery.”
During his visit to Peristeri, which included pit stops at its main shopping mall and church and meetings with local business leaders, the conservative leader said that rather than help the less privileged, the government’s measures are “punishing” the few businessmen that have actually been successful in the crisis, and he described its recipe of taxes as “shortsighted” as it will only increase undeclared labor and tax evasion.
Mitsotakis also also cast doubt on whether the government will meet its fiscal targets through to 2018 and avoid the activation of an automatic mechanism to cut state spending.
“With this government, I’m not sure [targets will be met],” he said.
The government issued an angry response Friday urging the conservative leader to be candid with voters. “If he wants to be frank with the weak then he must outline what his policies are on pensions, taxes and labor laws.”