Absurd encounters over social security

The ongoing debate over banks’ pension reform has thrown Greece’s mainstream parties into ideological confusion. The ruling New Democracy party is at pains to convince the public that it is simply enforcing the 2002 law introduced by then-labor minister, PASOK’s Dimitris Reppas. During their years in opposition, the conservatives shunned the Socialists’ reform proposals, denouncing them as phony. For its part, Socialist PASOK is now hammering away at the law which it itself passed when in it was in government, and which it had actually advertised as a new lease of life for the social security issue. PASOK is slamming the government for adopting the Reppas law and conservative ministers are out to defend its provisions. Senior PASOK official Evangelos Venizelos announced that PASOK would vote for an amendment submitted by Miltiades Evert, who turned against the party he led for four years. Making matters worse, Evert lashed out at Giorgos Alogoskoufis, and the government in general, accusing the national economy minister of pandering to banking interests. Truth is, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met no resistance from the opposition as George Papandreou has remained rather low profile over the reform controversy. The PASOK leader realizes the need for reform and would not want to run into the same problems should he ever become premier. Rather, the challenge came from the so-called «conscience of the party.» Evert’s criticism of his own government was a lifeline to PASOK, providing ammunition for the Socialists’ empty arsenal.

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