Athens.- Prime-minister George Papandreou, outlining his government’s main policies, invited all Greek people to cooperate to overcome the crisis that hurts all levels of Greek society. Furthermore he spoke of a “visionary, realistic” but self-evident course of change that the new government’s moves have already signaled. Since the beginning of his main policy speech to the Parliament he made clear that would support Karolos Papoulias candidacy for re-election to the post of President of the Republic, ensuring in advance ND party’s positive vote in March according to its pre-election campaign commitments.
Prime-minister G. Papandreou described the situation of the economy explosive, similar to the situation handed over by Mitsotakis government in 1993, with secret huge debts and expenses, unprecedented lack of competitiveness and insurance funds in disheartening situation. But he stressed loss of credibility and depreciation of all is the cause of the present situation and not state revenues.
The Prime-minister pledged to adopt any proposal by the opposition to strengthen transparency and promised to meet his commitments on public administration such as hiring of public administration officials only through ASEP taking part in annual tests. Mr. Papandreou also announced changes in the composition of disciplinary councils in civil services, so inspectors and inspected do not come from the same service.
G. Papandreou promised to give a special solidarity allowance to low income groups, a €30 increase in OGA pensions with retroactive effect as of October, 1, raises in pensions and salaries above inflation rate in 2010 and freezing of public utility tariffs.
Main opposition New Democracy president Costas Karamanlis promised that his party will be a “constructive” main opposition and support measures taken by the new PASOK government that were moving “in the right direction”, even when these were not popular with voters. He was speaking in Parliament on Saturday, in reply to the policy statement unveiled by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
“Whatever happens, in any case, ND will not exercise a nihilist opposition, even though it faced such opposition as a government,” he said.
He also wished the new government every success in its work, noting that the challenges were many and major.
“A fundamental condition for the common goals is the unity and unanimity of all Greeks in putting the country’s interests first,” Karamanlis stressed.
ND’s president, who has announced his intention to resign from the party’s leadership after a crushing defeat in the October 4 elections and begun the process for electing a new party leader, underlined the need to continue tough measures and use the positive results of his own term in government that he said had been “stalled” by the crisis that had highlighted the weaknesses.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga expressed complete opposition to the entire range of policies announced by the government in Parliament, stressing that these would be “business as usual” and continue the conservative policies of New Democracy. She was speaking during the debate on Saturday evening on the government policy statement presented by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
“You have not said that you will abolish any of ND’s laws against the people. You speak only for change and reform. There is a new ‘page’ but no change in policy. The main direction will be to put pressure on the people. We will contribute so that these policies are not carried out,” KKE’s leader underlined.
Papariga particularly highlighted Papandreou’s lack of reference to the talks with European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia regarding Greece’s economy, saying that the programme demanded by the Commissioner “will finally demolish the rights gained by workers”.
Accusing New Democracy’s leadership of giving the present government a ‘leg-up’ into power, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said that his own right-wing nationalists would attempt to ‘take up the slack’. Even though LAOS was not the main opposition, it would strive to act as one “for the good of the country”, he told Parliament on Saturday during the debate on the government’s policy statements.
Comparing Prime Minister George Papandreou to “the ugly duckling that turned into a swan,” Karatzaferis accused ND leader and former premier Costas Karamanlis of “being the fairy that transformed him”.
He promised to mount a tough opposition that “would not be as sweet as that of Karamanlis” and to be a harsh critic of the government, not because it was his party’s institutional role but because “the circumstances demand this”.
“Personally, I believe we are heading toward a thriller,” LAOS’s leader added, while criticising the premier for devoting minimal time to ‘national’ issues during his hour-long speech.
PASOK has already started telling people to ‘lower the bar’ of their expectations, which it had itself created prior to the elections, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras said during his first-ever address in Parliament. He was speaking on behalf of the left-wing party alliance during Saturday’s debate on the policy statement announcement by the government and Prime Minister George Papandreou.
“Where New Democracy spoke of an ‘audit’, you speak of a ‘record’. The citizens, working people, young people that are being suffocated by the current economic conditions voted you into power in order to change things. Not to continue the same policy as the previous New Democracy government,” Tsipras stressed.
He cited the negotiations for the sale of the Piraeus container terminal to COSCO as the first symptom of a government U-turn from policies announced prior to the elections.