ATHENS – Greece’s ruling parties and major opposition both rejected the notion that a new coalition government should be formed to take the country out of its economic crisis.
During a vote of confidence debate in Parliament that was easily won by the ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his partner the PASOK Socialists, some Independent MPS – and from PASOK – suggested the parties should come together to create a government of national unity, with a new Premier.
PASOK wanted the coalition to be the same as the current one, which isn’t a change. “We are not interested in such scenarios,” said spokesman Panos Skourletis from the opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA.) “We believe that at this time the country needs a strong government that will defend its interests and get us out of the memorandum and the crisis.”
Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, who had served in the coalition before withdrawing last year, said the government needs to be replaced and said his party will not support the coalition’s candidate in February’s Presidential elections, even though it was reported he was a leading candidate to be tabbed by New Democracy and PASOK.
“A change of policy in a progressive direction presupposes a change of government,” said Kouvelis. This government cannot and does not want to implement progressive policies. Political stability does not mean the continuation of the same policies. These policies create social instability.” He had supported the policies that he said created social instability.
That stance is trouble for Samaras, who needs 180 votes for election of a new Greek President, a failure to do so which would lead to early national elections with SYRIZA opening a lead in in the polls on the back of its opposition to austerity measures he imposed on orders of international lenders.
In statements to SkAI TV, Skourletis wondered “what sort confidence are we talking about and to whom” through the proposal for a new government.
Several high-ranking New Democracy officials as well as other political figures “are talking about a special purpose government. Could it be that that they are also sending a message to Mr Samaras?” said when asked about SYRIZA’s participation in a special purpose or national unity government.
Before the confidence vote was taken, Samaras addressed Parliament and said he was the guy to keep the country heading toward recovery from a crushing economic crisis caused largely by alternating New Democracy and PASOK administrations over the years spending wildly and hiring scores of thousands of needless workers in return for votes.
PASOK leader and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos said the coalition had put together a “comprehensive national strategy to exit the crisis.” He said main leftist opposition SYRIZA’s policies would undermine an economic recovery.
“Five years of toil and sacrifice can be undone in five days,” he said.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras insisted that the government would soon be removed from power as it would be unable to elect a President in February and he would come to power without an economic plan other than to try to revise the terms of 240 billion euros ($317 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) or renege on it, which would leave Greece broke.