Nervous lawmakers from the PASOK Socialists who are the junior partner in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and New Democracy Conservative party leader’s government say they want an explanation about taxes they say are damaging to the ruling parties.
New Democracy has fallen behind the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in polls while PASOK, whose leader Evangelos Venizelos is Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister, has plummeted to between 3-5 percent and would be irrelevant and powerless if it had not given its votes to Samaras and acceded to harsh austerity measures, including tax hikes.
There are only 26 PASOK MP’s left in the 300-member Parliament after Venizelos ejected some for refusing to obey his orders to back austerity and some want to meet Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and General Secretary for revenues Haris Theocharis to get some answers over their plans for reforms demanded by international lenders, including taxes.
The lawmakers who are now feeling anxiety over taxes have voted for them. It wasn’t said if Venizelos had given his consent for them to question the government officials.
Farmers are protesting new tax regulations, including the need for them to keep records and have taken to blocking roads, making some MPs uneasy, but there are also concerns in the government about the impact of other tax-related issues, such as a proposed capital gains tax on property.
Samaras and Venizelos have discussed them as well and the PASOK chief was said to have some concerns but he has mostly relented after putting up a public squawk. Samaras told New Democracy’s parliamentary group last week that there would be adjustments to iron out “mistakes and injustices.”
Venizelos was in Strasbourg on Feb. 4 and met with Hannes Swoboda, leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, and Parliament President Martin Schulz, who hopes to become European Commission President.
They discussed the possibility of Schulz visiting Greece in early March and attending a joint congress that PASOK will hold with the fellow center-left Movement of the 58, with whom the Socialists will stand in May’s European Parliament elections in a bid dto shore up their eroding base.