PM calls for PASOK unity

Faced with growing dissent within PASOK ranks, Prime Minister George Papandreou attempted yesterday to impose his authority on MPs, as he presented an upbeat assessment of the government’s first 100 days in power. After reiterating his message that his party took over the country at a time of extreme difficulty, due largely to the dire state of public finances, Papandreou fielded numerous questions from journalists about the apparent disharmony within PASOK regarding policy choices. «During periods of consultation, all proposals and thoughts must be considered,» said Papandreou. «This is a democratic and useful process. But when we take decisions centrally, everybody has the duty to stand by them.» Papandreou has seen some of his government’s decisions criticized by PASOK deputies, led chiefly by the party’s parliamentary secretary Christos Papoutsis. «The opinions of MPs are definitely important and I appreciate that such challenges can create questions but this does not mean there is confusion within the government,» said the premier. A few hours before Papandreou spoke, the Finance Ministry revealed that it was withdrawing a surprise amendment that raised tax on cigarettes, alcohol and parental concessions of property. The legislation was criticized by Papoutsis and other PASOK deputies as well as opposition parties. The Finance Ministry said the amendment was being withdrawn to avoid giving the impression PASOK was trying to pass the law surreptitiously. The proposals will now be opened for wider consultation. «It would be laughable for us to suggest that over the past 100 days we have solved every problem,» said Papandreou. «It would also be wrong to suggest that we have not made any mistakes.» The prime minister again highlighted electoral reform as one of the central pillars of his government’s agenda, saying that the creation of smaller, single-seat constituencies would help eradicate corruption from Greek politics.

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