Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Tuesday recommended a "renegotiation of memorandum terms" in order to extend the period over which the deficit will be reduced, the first such high-profile proposal by a Cabinet minister.

Kastanidis said he recommendation comes in response to the message, as he said, sent by voters during Sunday's Nov. 7 local government election.

Speaking to a private radio, Kastanidis opined that the high abstention rate can only be interpreted as an attempt by a large part of the electorate to challenge the political system.

He also said the election percentages of the two major political parties combined (ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy) are among the smallest ever recorded.

A renegotiation of the EU-ECB-IMF memorandum's terms, setting a deadline until 2013 for a reduction of the state deficit, should more likely focus on the adoption of a milder pace, while extending the deficit reduction timetable, he said.

ND spokesman on Memorandum renegotiating

The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party has criticised the government over statements by officials of the ruling PASOK party on the renegotiation of the memorandum's terms.

The ND party spoke of "dramatic deadlocks" in government policy and calls on the citizens to send "an even more resounding message to Prime Minister George Papandreou this coming Sunday."

"When the government itself, even though delayed, ascertains the dramatic deadlocks of the policy of the Memorandum, why is it accusing ND, that called on the Greek people to send a message for the condemnation of this policy and on the need for us to change course immediately," said ND spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos, who also called on citizens to send a message on policy change.

"In any case, the correct message was sent by the Greek people and the government has a duty to understand it and change policy immediately," the spokesman added.