Greece: People reject parties, neo-Nazis march in Parliament

Government sworn in, Fitch cuts rating, no wage for ministers

18 May, 09:56

(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, MAY 18 - At the height of a crisis that is sweeping through and deepening day by day (Fitch has once again cut the country's rating, this time to CCC), there is a growing split between the Greek people and the political parties accused of irresponsibility for the way in which they failed in talks with the country's President, Karolos Papoulias, to form a new government.

The unedifying view of the political class provided by the latest opinion poll appeared to be confirmed even at yesterday's swearing-in ceremony for the 16 new government ministers.

Deputies of the far-right party Chrysi Avgi marked their entry into Parliament by marching in a military formation and refused to stand during the ceremony led by the Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos II. The three Muslim deputies also remained seated, while almost all Communist parliamentarians left the hall so as not to attend the swearing-in. The poll, carried out on Wednesday by the company Marc on behalf of the television station TV Alpha following the talks, showed that most of those interviewed disapprove of the behaviour of political parties, who stood in the way of the formation of a national unity government. Some 67.7% of citizens said that an agreement on a coalition government should have been reached (30.3% disagreed), while 80.2% said that party interests were the reason behind the failure to form such an executive. Only 16% said that the cause was "profound differences" between the parties.

Yet the strongest message concerns Greece's future. Once again, the overwhelming majority of Greeks (81.5%) said that they want their country to remain in the eurozone, while 13.5% want it to withdraw. The transition government led by the Prime Minister, Panagiotis Pikrammenos, which took office on Wednesday, attempted to send out a message of austerity, informing the new ministers that, as a result of the serious economic situation, they would not receive a wage for their month in office, which ends with the next elections of June 17. The same applies to deputies elected on May 6 and who took oath yesterday in Parliament. MPs will not receive a single euro for the 24 hours that they remain representatives (Parliament is expected to be dissolved Monday, at the latest), with the election campaign due to begin. In truth campaigning effectively began on Wednesday, as party leaders talked to the new MPs about the divisions so strongly criticised by Greeks.

Antonis Samaras, the leader of the conservative New Democracy party (ND), tore in to Alexis Tsirpas, leader of the radical left-wing coalition Syriza, for his continuing calls to refuse the memorandum agreed by Athens to obtain loans from international creditors, saying that this tantamount to "jumping into the precipice". Samaras added that Syriza is a coalition of forces that range from "anarchists to those who want to revive the hammer and sickle". He continued: "No-one agrees with the memorandum and neither do I. But today what we need is to change it and to stay in the euro".

Tsipras was quick to react and condemned ND and the Socialist Pasok party, accusing both of inventing inexistent dangers and circulating worrying reports of the collapse of the Greek economy. ND and Pasok, Tsipras said, have planned to privatise the entire Greek public sector and the left is the only force able to put an end to their "disastrous plan". "It does not matter what Mr. Barroso says, or how many letters the Prime Minister has signed," Tsipras said. "Hope is stronger than fear," he added combatively.(ANSAmed).


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