The new austerity package that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras aims to nail down next week is not only threatened by vehement objections from the main leftist opposition SYRIZA but could be jeopardized by serious concerns from the moderate Democratic Left, the smallest party in the shaky coalition government. In an interview with Kathimerini, Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis said his party would only approve the 11.5-billion-euro package of measures if he is convinced that no more sacrifices will be demanded of austerity-weary Greeks.
“Whether we vote in favor of the measures or not will depend on what those measures are and on the growth-oriented initiatives that will accompany them,” Kouvelis said, adding that he supported the government but would not back it unconditionally. He said he did not intend to punish MPs who vote against the measures by ejecting them from the party -- a tactic followed by socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy in February when several of their lawmakers voted against a raft of cuts then.
Kouvelis stressed that his priorities were to secure the country’s position in the euro and its “political stability” on the domestic level. He said former Socialist Premier George Papandreou, who sought Greece’s first bailout in April 2010, bore “massive responsibility” for the country’s “unprecedented tribulations” as one austerity package followed another.
In an interview with Skai on Saturday, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he did not believe Samaras’s pledge that the new package of measures would be the last and said the new cuts would provoke an “explosion in society and the labor market.”