ND's focus lifts to internal affairs

The focus of conservative New Democracy, which leads the country’s tripartite coalition, shifted on Friday -- at least in part -- from issues of governance to internal affairs as candidates for the post of party secretary prepare for elections on Thursday.

The most prominent of the ND cadres expected to announce their candidacies for the job -- previously held by Andreas Lykourentzos, who is now health minister -- are former Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who is also an ex-minister, and Nikos Nikolopoulos, the former deputy labor minister who resigned earlier this month, citing the government’s failure to push for the renegotiation of the country’s debt deal as his reason.

There had been plans for the election to the post of ND’s party secretary to be put off until the fall but concerns about possible protests by unions ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair in September and planned privatizations prompted a decision to resolve the matter sooner rather than later.

Within the ranks of socialist PASOK, the second party in the coalition, attention was focused on a legislative initiative aimed at safeguarding social security cover for young Greeks. Party officials said they would soon submit to Parliament a legislative proposal foreseeing the creation of a fund that would finance social security for “the next generations” using the dividends and taxes of companies awarded licenses to exploit Greece’s mineral resources.

Sources close to PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said the initiative, which was first floated as an idea during the premiership of George Papandreou, underlined the party’s social democratic roots, noting that similar policies have been implemented in progressive countries such as Norway.

In left-wing SYRIZA meanwhile, legislators were preparing the ground for an appeal for a parliamentary investigation into the Siemens cash-for-contracts scandal in which PASOK and ND are implicated. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras submitted a question to Parliament signed by several MPs, demanding explanations from the parties about “the scandalous attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement with Siemens.” SYRIZA MP Rena Dourou submitted a separate question to the Foreign Ministry, requesting detailed information on the distribution of its “secret funds.”


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