ATHENS – Besieged on a number of fronts by rivals, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is readying to deliver at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) more aid for Greeks as he looks to a re-election campaign in 2023.
That will include housing for the young locked out by rising rents and foreign investors buying up chunks of neighborhoods in Athens to convert them into short-term rentals and profits, said Kathimerini.
But as he deals with the waning COVID-19 pandemic, Turkish threats, record inflation, a spyware scandal and pouring billions of subsidies into helping households swamped with soaring electric bills, the major opposition SYRIZA is taking pot shots at him.
He will also announce pension increases, the first in more than a decade after they were held down by austerity measures as part of eight years of international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($325.97 billion) from 2010-18.
The housing scheme will reportedly cost some 1.5 billion euros ($1.5 billion) although the Finance Ministry said state coffers are running low because of energy aid, despite tourism revenues on a course to bring in as much as 20 billion euros ($20 billion) in 2022.
More than a million pensioners will be a benefit bump that will cost another 450 million euros ($449.96 million) among the pre-election handouts traditionally given at TIF by ruling governments.
The government has decided to pay up to 90 percent of electric bills that doubled in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the possibility of losing part or all of Russian oil and gas supplies.
The aid to pensioners was a political payoff, said the paper, because it targets a huge voting bloc said to be friendly to New Democracy but also the rising PASOK Socialists, whose leader Nikos Androulakis, had his phone bugged by the National Intelligence Service (EYP) that’s under Mitsotakis’ control, although the Premier said he wasn’t informed about it.
In the 2019 elections bringing Mitsotakis to power in a rout over the Radical Left SYRIZA, 46.6 percent of pensioners voted for ND and 10.9 percent for PASOK-KINAL, the Leftists out of favor for keeping austerity measures harmful to the retirees.
Housing aid for the young, the report said, was aimed at draining support for SYRIZA, which got 38 percent of their vote in 2019 to 30.4 percent for New Democracy which wants to bring them into the fold.