ATHENS – Greece’s major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA deliberately overtaxed the middle class to create a pot of cash go give to lower-income groups and handouts to attract votes.
With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras plummeting in polls during an election year the government has been trying to roll back austerity measures he imposed after swearing to reject them.
Speaking at a meeting of the European People’s Party Group in Athens, Mitsotakis said the economy needs investments and reforms he said he would bring if elected, not just spending cuts and taxes.
His comments were made during a discussion with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and EPP chief Manfred Weber, who is also running for the Presidency of the European Commission and who is close with his fellow Conservative Greek politician.
“We are talking about growth through investments. We have the appropriate strategy and with regards to taxation and red tape, I believe that the EPP’s positions are identical to those of New Democracy,” Mitsotakis was quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency as saying.
“In terms of the challenges to the economy, we are at very important point. We cannot have growth of 2-3 percent and then claim to be out of the crisis,” the conservative leader added.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos admitted his policy was to pile taxes on middle class voters as part of an avalanche of hikes and new assessments as part of more austerity ordered by international creditors to whom the government surrendered to get a third rescue package in 2015, this one for 86 billion euros ($97.49 billion).