NEWS

PASOK suffers bill fallout

A large protest on Wednesday against the government’s latest austerity measures, which turned violent and led to a former minister being attacked, as well as the expulsion of a PASOK MP for failing to vote for the measures in Parliament late on Tuesday underlined the growing political pressure on the Socialist administration. This pressure was evident yesterday when Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou appeared before Parliament’s economic affairs committee for the second time this week and was again heavily criticized by his own party’s deputies as well as opposition MPs. Less than 48 hours earlier, 156 MPs voted in favor of a bill that reduces wages at public enterprises (DEKOs) by 10 percent and which allows companies to bypass collective labor contracts. On an article-by-article basis, New Democracy supported the DEKO cuts but opposed the labor legislation. PASOK MP Yiannis Amoiridis accused the government of «not distributing the burden fairly.» «We have to be trustworthy so that people who feel insecure and doubt the measures’ effectiveness can trust us,» said Socialist deputy Mimis Androulakis. Early on Wednesday, Preveza lawmaker Evangelos Papachristos was thrown out of PASOK for voting against the measures. Papachristos’s ousting, which reduces the government majority to six, was doubly significant as he was an adviser to Prime Minister George Papandreou. Deputies from the Communist Party, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) voted against the refroms, which up to 80,000 people protested against on Wednesday. The rally was marred by violence that led to 10 arrests as dozens of firebombs were thrown and riot police clashed with protesters. Former Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis was also set upon by a mob, leading to the ND MP having to be ushered away by police officers. Hatzidakis condemned the violence but said that he felt no malice toward his assailants. Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis drew criticism from SYRIZA when, in Parliament, he essentially accused the leftist party’s supporters of being involved in the attack. SYRIZA accused him of «breeding violence.»