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Papandreou demands victory or early elections

26 October 2010 / 10:10:57  GRReporter
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"I am appealing for responsibility to demonstrate we are determined to change bad laws and that our titanic work will not be halfway done" addressed the Prime Minister George Papandreou to the millions of Greeks during a television interview from the ministerial council. The interview was taken by seven journalists he has approved preliminary and lasted two hours. It is common practice in Greece Prime Ministers to give staged television interviews before parliamentary elections but this happens for the first time before elections of local authorities. This was how the leader of the governing PASOK party sent a message that the vote in mid-November is not just a vote for mayors and regional governors but it is a vote to support the painful reforms the country is to pass through.

In his introductory speech the Prime Minister said that he assumed a year ago responsibility for the country that was in a difficult situation with no hesitation. "We took difficult decisions, people have made sacrifices, but these sacrifices enabled us to get the largest support ever granted - € 110 billion. There is light in the tunnel already and the first positive results after all the work and sacrifices made are apparent. If we do not proceed to solve the problems all the work we have done to date will go in vain," said Mr. Papandreou.

The Prime Minister said he is determined to continue with the changes but he wants the Greek people to support that decision. "I want a vote for hope and change instead of a protest vote," said Mr. Papandreou, describing those municipal elections as specific since the Greeks will vote not only for regional governors for the first time under the new ‘Kalikratis’ administration plan but also because "we are still in the intensive care." “The warning signal is still on” stressed the Prime Minister and added that during the elections the Greeks should send a clear message to all outside and within the country that the course of change will not be discontinued and Greece will not go back. The socialist party Prime Minister described 2011 as "the second crucial half, when institutional changes will be made to reduce spending, to reach greater transparency and to restore the sense of justice in people." The Prime Minister promised positive development for 2012 and the country to come out of the memorandum in 2013.

To the question of Olga Tremi from Mega TV whether the Prime Minister will demand early elections if PASOK looses, Papandreou answered: "I have no reason and intention to demand elections, but if the situation gets difficult for the government to proceed with the changes, then the Greek people will have to decide." The Prime Minister promised that no new measures will be taken that would cut people’s salaries and pensions. The next objective of the government will be to fight corruption and to find out the reason for the public sector’s excessive spending.

"Markets and all those who have bet on the failure of Greece will benefit from any message that could be interpreted as Athens defeat. They will do anything to interpret the electoral vote as a vote of protest,” believes the Greek Prime Minister.

Andreas Konstantatos from Alter TV asked whether citizens could trust the words of the Prime Minister once he claimed during the last year’s election campaign that there was enough money to increase wages and then his policy completely opposed what he said. Mr. Papandreou answered that the statement "there is money" was based on data received from the then ruling New Democracy party. Papandreou recalled that during the last year’s election debate he openly asked the then-Prime Minister Mr. Karamanlis whether these economic data are accurate or not. "Hi did not answer me. And not only he did not answer me but sent false data in Brussels just before the elections," stated the Prime Minister.

Concerning the reduction of the high taxes the companies pay, which halt development and investment, Mr. Papandreou related tax increases with tax evasion: "We will reduce taxes, if we are guaranteed that everyone will pay their taxes," noted the Prime Minister, who has put this issue during a discussion with businessmen but has not received confirmation that this could be guaranteed. "There will be revenue defraud as long as there are no good laws, as long as citizens do not realize that tax is a social responsibility rather than punishment, and as long as tax evasion continues."

Mr. Papandreou stressed that tax changes imply not only increases but also redistribution of taxation in order to lower the tax burden of low income brackets of the society and to increase the burden for the rich, which will be felt in 2011 As for investors that avoid Greece because of high taxes, Mr. Papandreou reported that the inability of the state to receive market capitals limits the choice of the government. But higher taxes are not more repulsive than the lack of stability and transparency. "If investors are certain that we have a stable environment and that they will not get involved in bureaucracy and corruption, taxation gets in the background," said the Prime Minister.

The interview with Mr. Papandreou from his office in the Council of Ministers was directly broadcasted by the Greek state television and lasted two hours. Seven journalists asked the Prime Minister questions in two thematic rounds and the discussion was moderated by the government spokesman George Petalotis. A Sunday meeting with the journalists determined the order to ask questions and the first to open was Olga Tremi (Μega) and then followed Maria Houkli (Αntenna), Aimilios Liatsos (Star), Andreas Konstantatos (Αlter), Antonis Sroiter (Αlpha ), Sia Kosoni (Σκάι) and Prokopis Doukas (ΝΕΤ). It is expected that between 3 and 4 million viewers watched the interview of the Prime Minister, and according to the observers, Papandreou has taken most of the burden of the political election battle though the interview placed at risk the expected benefits to the government.


Tags: NewsPoliticsLocal electionsGeorge PapandreouVoteTaxationTax evasion
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