Even as they set down their limits, leaders of the country’s tripartite coalition government have indicated that they are ready to negotiate, to a certain degree, with Greece’s foreign creditors.
Antonis Samaras, the leader of conservative New Democracy, which is leading in opinion polls, is reportedly prepared to accept demands by creditors that new bonds -- in a debt swap still being negotiated between government officials and private firms -- be subject to British rather than Greek law. The decision is expected to rile several ND cadres who have spoken out against such a prospect. But some support the idea. On Monday, Theodoros Vardas, an adviser to Samaras, backed the recapitalization of banks that would not result in the government getting shares with voting rights.
However ND’s leadership strongly opposes other changes proposed by foreign creditors including cuts to auxiliary pensions and to wages in the private sector which, Samaras argues, would deepen the current recession. Instead the ND leader proposes a salary freeze.
The leader of the rightwing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatzaferis, has reportedly proposed a different alternative to the abolition of the 13th and 14th annual salaries -- that an additional hour be added to each working day.
Former Prime Minister and Socialist PASOK leader George Papandreou struck a different tone on Monday. Addressing fellow members of the European Socialist Party at a congress in Brussels, Papandreou appealed for tolerance and patience with Greece’s reform efforts, noting that most countries need a decade to push through the changes that Greek authorities have been grappling with since 2010. He added that pure austerity has been proven not to work and should not be imposed on other EU member states.