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The blue are in a state of commotion because of the new austerity measures

13 September 2012 / 21:09:17  GRReporter
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The meeting between ministers and members of New Democracy lasted almost seven hours, during which cabinet members were explaining the new economic measures to their colleagues in parliament.

The "briefing" took place while the meeting between the coalition leaders was ongoing and continued long after. During the debates that took place behind closed doors, many lawmakers opposed the measures through which the government is planning to save 11.5 billion euro by 2015.

According to sources, a large number of around 100 present deputies reacted sharply to the measures and questioned their votes during the vote in parliament.

At the same time, over 70 members of the trade union of the DAKE party had gathered at the stairs in front of the party headquarters. They did not hide their resentment at the measures and booed passing lawmakers. Minister of Culture Costas Tzavaras became the first target of their heavy attacks. "Be careful what you do," "We're the ones who voted for you. Don’t forget it" and "What are you going to do?" was one of the questions that was asked in a particularly high tone.

Similar was the attitude towards the deputies Dora Bakogiannis and Adonis Georgiadis. The blue trade unionists booed them with the slogan known from the protests of the discontented in Syntagma Square, "Take the memorandum and get out of here."

The meeting the new party secretary Manolis Kefalogiannis had convened was very much like the meeting of the parliamentary group in February this year, when 30 deputies had opposed the second memorandum of economic aid and criticized the decision of the party leadership to support it.

At first, two of the more experienced deputies immediately placed a request to convene a meeting of the parliamentary group of New Democracy and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to personally inform during it the deputies about the planned measures. Then, the Ministers of Development Kostis Hatzidakis, Minister of Employment Yiannis Vroutsis and Deputy Minister of Finance Christos Staikouras made a detailed presentation, also for colleagues from the government who were not familiar with the details of the package of austerity measures. They presented the economic situation of the country and the negotiations with the supervisory Troika in order to prevent negative reactions before the vote in parliament.

However, things were heard behind the closed doors of the meeting room that revealed both the depth of the problem and the fact that the party leadership is not completely aware of the situation inside the party. Real things were heard during the debate, but also expressions that will cause tension and comments. Recipient of the most negative remarks was the Minister of Employment, who said that the market in Greece was not free and acted like the markets in former socialist countries, but the second memorandum has liberalized it. A little later, in a conversation with reporters, he corrected what he had said stating that the Greek economy in some ways resembled that of the Soviet Union, but the second memorandum has changed that.

Yiannis Vroutsis said that the minimum wage would not be reduced and then raised the issue of changes in labour relations. Then, however, he said he was not willing to comment on all the issues that political leaders would have to decide on. Many lawmakers were not satisfied with this explanation and criticized him.

Deputy Minister of Finance Christos Staikouras surprised the audience too by admitting that he had found a hole to the amount of 1 billion euro in the national insurance system. He said that no one knew of its existence and that the reason for it was overdue payments to the fund. He was honest that he was not yet aware of when and how much wages and pensions would be cut.

Minister for Development Kostis Hatzidakis undertook the difficult task of protecting the measures and said the stake is the survival of the country. "This is a hot potato and a bitter cup, but I will do what my mind tells me," he said and expressed confidence that Greece will manage to cope. He also spoke about the expected bill for the rescheduling of payments to banks by highly indebted households, adding that any agreement would have to be agreed with the supervisory Troika.

At the same time, the blue unionist and deputy chairman of the union of private sector employees Nikos Kioutsoukis was disaffiliated with the party because of his severe attacks on Minister of Culture Costas Tzavaras concerning the new austerity measures.


Tags: PoliticsNew DemocracyTrade unionistsNew austerity measuresDisaffiliationNikos Kioutsoukis
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