NEWS

Papandreou turns on his critics

Prime Minister George Papandreou hit out at his opponents on the left and right of the political spectrum and insisted that November’s local elections will be a litmus test for what direction Greece wants to take in the future. Speaking at the beginning of a three-day meeting of PASOK’s national council and on the anniversary of the party’s founding in 1974, Papandreou accepted that his government had made some tough but unpopular decisions since it came to power last October but insisted that the criticism it has received from New Democracy and the country’s leftist parties has been wide off the mark. «Some people want to turn the local elections into a vote against the memorandum [with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund],» he said. «The forces of conservatism – be they on the left or right – tell us that the troika [IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank] are to blame for everything. So, is the troika responsible for corruption in public hospitals? For tax evasion? For patron-client relations? For the shameful spending on medicines? For the fact that Greece tops the lists for unhealthy habits? The truth is that they are the ones that have ruined the country.» Without naming the conservative party, Papandreou then accused ND of double standards, citing its leader Antonis Samaras’s comment that he would have also signed up for the 110 billion euros in emergency loans from the troika but not under the terms that Papandreou did. «They want the 110 billion euros but not the conditions, the bill that comes with this financial support,» he said. «They know that this bill, which we are all paying today, is a result of their crimes. It is the gravestone on their brand of politics and they don’t know how to deal with it.» Having named 77 municipal candidates for the November 7 elections, Papandreou is set to announce the PASOK hopefuls who will compete for control of the 13 regional authorities that have been created by his administration’s recent local government reforms. It remains to be seen how many Cabinet members will be among the 13 candidates, which is likely to dictate the scope of the reshuffle that Papandreou is expected to carry out over the next few days.