NEWS

Internal disquiet unsettles PASOK

PASOK’s parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis has been warned about his conduct, sources said yesterday, as the ruling center-left party struggles to contain internal unrest over its austerity measures. Papoutsis made an unprecedented verbal attack on Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis in Parliament on Friday during the debate about the public spending cuts and tax hikes that the government pushed through the House. «In which government do you think you are serving?» asked Papoutsis. «We will not lose our soul. Distinguished politicians have sat where you are now sitting.» The outburst is believed to have shocked and enraged Sachinidis who reportedly tendered his resignation afterward but had it turned down. Some commentators believe that he was just caught in the line of a verbal assault on Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou who was not in Parliament at the time. The incident is said to have enraged Prime Minister George Papandreou, who let it be known that he expected Papoutsis to make amends. Speaking on ANT1 TV on Sunday, the PASOK MP said that his comments were not personal and that he supported the government’s measures as they were necessary to help avert a fiscal disaster. Another Socialist MP, Costas Skandalidis, a leadership candidate in 2007 and a former party secretary, was also forced to backtrack on Sunday after suggesting in an interview that the steps taken by the government were «a punch in the stomach for PASOK» and bore little resemblance to the promises that Papandreou had made before the election. In a statement issued yesterday, Skandalidis said that he remained a PASOK «foot soldier» who fully backed the government’s policies and the prime minister.