MPs set to pass budget in after-midnight vote

Parliament was set to approve the 2005 state budget early today, following five days of often acrimonious debate. Although opposition parties were expected to vote against the budget in a ballot due to start at midnight, ruling New Democracy’s majority of 164 deputies in the 300-seat house is enough to easily carry the vote. Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga complained that the budget followed the same general directions as all budgets tabled since 1991. «Most of the revenues will derive from the sweat and the exploitation of the people,» she said. «It is very boring to have to say the same things year after year.» Synaspismos Left Coalition’s newly elected chairman, Alekos Alavanos, attacked the two major parties, conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK, for sparring on foreign policy issues late on Tuesday instead of focusing on budgetary issues. «This is an insult to pensioners, the jobless and wage-earners,» he said. On Tuesday, PASOK MPs threatened to leave the house after government spokesman and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos said that, had opposition leader George Papandreou’s views on Cyprus prevailed, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would have been representing Cyprus at last week’s EU summit.