Venizelos Tells SYRIZA To Back Presidential Unity



PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos (C) wants no dissension over Greece's Presidency
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos (C) wants no dissension over Greece’s Presidency

In an indirect shot at the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIA), PASOK leader and Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece’s political parties should not try to block the appointment of a President next year to force early polls,

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives are being pushed by  SYRIZA to call national elections after the Premier’s party finished second to his rivals in the European Parliament elections.

Greece is scheduled in March next year to name a new President, but that requires three roll calls of 200, 200 and 180 votes to get a two-thirds majority in the 300-member Parliament and the ruling parties have only 153, and failure to agree on someone to replace Karolos Papoulias could derail the government.

With so much at stake, Venizelos – whose own party is floundering near the bottom in popularity amongst Greeks – told his members and those from the new center-left movement Elia, or Olive Tree, that there should be no fight over the Presidency.

Samaras and Venizelos have backed austerity measures demanded by international lenders in return for bailouts, but SYRIZA’s opposition to the conditions have elevated the party to lead in most polls, putting pressure on the ruling administration.

The government’s four-year term should be concluded and be allowed to finish reforms insisted upon by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) which is putting up 240 billion euros ($327 billion) in two rescue packages, Venizelos said, according to the Athens News Agency.

He said the question is one of stability and not of politics, although it was reported he blasted SYRIZA for having a a “Civil War rationale,” and blistered its leader, Alexis Tsipras, for touring European to campaign against austerity and the government.

Venizelos said that PASOK is a party of conciliation and unity and backs Samaras in every way, although the Socialist leader has recently begun to bark about civil servant firings that he has supported until now.

With Greece about to ask the Troika for debt relief, Venizelos himself showed some signs of backing off the tough measures he said everyone else should support.

“We are not denying the memorandum obligations we have signed to date, but at the same time we must improve the course of things when they don’t bring any results,” he said, citing the example of companies’ social insurance contributions.