Opposition to Kallikratis grows

Protests against a government plan to reorganize local authorities continued unabated yesterday with more demonstrations around the country and traffic chaos in Athens. Local government officials and residents from different parts of Greece gathered outside Parliament to protest the planned mergers of municipalities and changes to administrative seats envisaged under the government’s Kallikratis plan. Residents of Attica were joined by protesters from Crete, the Peloponnese and central and northern Greece. They had earlier marched to Parliament from the Interior Ministry, closing off the center of Athens to traffic for several hours. A group of protesters from Kymi temporarily closed one of the two bridges connecting the island of Evia with mainland Greece. They later boarded coaches for Athens to join the demonstration outside Parliament. As protesters demonstrated outside, tempers flared inside when Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos, speaking in his capacity as deputy for Kastoria, pressed Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis to make changes to the draft law so that the Municipality of Makednon in the northern Greek city could retain its administrative autonomy. Ragousis replied in a sharp tone, rejecting the request made by fellow PASOK party cadre Petsalnikos, who left the chamber. Speaking about the Kallikratis plan on Tuesday in Parliament, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed, «We will not take even one step backward.» In Thessaloniki yesterday, residents of four western municipalities protested outside Menemeni Town Hall. Their demands were mixed, since they are calling for the merger of two municipalities and opposing the planned amalgamation of another two.

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