Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis, who took his party out of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ previous coalition government, said he walked out because the Premier and PASOK Socialist leader had conspired to set up an administration without him and because of disagreement over the closing of the national broadcaster ERT.
Kouvelis said in a scathing attack against Samaras’s decision to shut down that he “tried to back us into a corner, because he thought he had us on a hook,” although it turned out he had Venizelos hook, line and sinker.
Speaking on SKAI TV’s New Files current affairs program, Kouvelis, whose party is on the borderline of going under 3 percent in the polls, the threshold needed to win seats in Parliament, said that Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, would have had to back down on ERT if Venizelos had stood his ground instead of going back on his word to oppose the closing of ERT and firing of its 2,656 workers as Kouvelis did.
“New Democracy does not behave like a democratic party,” Kouvelis said in reference to Samaras’s decision to shut down ERT for restructuring. He added that “the prime minister is surrounded by a group of people who make the decisions and impose their opinions.”
Kouvelis had supported all the positions he is now renouncing and his party is in such disarray he is practically begging leftists to join in keeping it alive. Former PASOK stalwart Theodoros Pangalos also ridiculed Kouvelis as irrelevant.
Kouvelis also said that he wondered whether the decision to shut down ERT had been first approved by New Democracy officials before it was announced by the prime minister’s office.
He said that Venizelos already decided to remain in the government before the June 20 emergency meeting that caused the rift in the coalition, and reneged on his original position over ERT. To keep a majority in Parliament, Samaras kept PASOK in his government and rewarded the party with ministerial positions, including naming Venizelos Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and created new positions after he said he would reduce the number of ministries.
Kouvelis added that Samaras had been pondering snap elections, but rejected the idea after being pressured against this course of action by Greece’s creditors, who want to see Athens implement much-delayed structural reforms in exchange for life-saving bailout funding.