Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday night said that he would reshuffle his cabinet tomorrow, and then proceed to ask the parliament for a confidence vote; while earlier in the day unconfirmed reports said that he was going to resign.
EU policymakers have told Papandreou he must have broad political consensus to get the extra cash Greece needs to plug funding shortfalls, the kind of consensus achieved in crisis-hit Ireland and Portugal. Opposition parties have so far rejected austerity policies aimed at pulling Greece out of a severe debt crisis, saying they stifle the economy.
In his address to the Greek people, George Papandreou accused main opposition New Democracy party of trying to gain political advantages by exploiting the need for consensus and added that he himself is determined to follow on the same path. “I will continue on the same course. This is the road of duty, together with PASOK’s parliamentary group, its members, and the Greek people,” Papandreou said.
Finance Minister Yiorgos Papakonstantinou is likely to be replaced in the reshuffle as he was blamed by Paso MPs for the failure of the government’s fiscal programme. PASOK MP Yiorgos Floridis is his most likely successor.
Papandreou makes televised address late Wednesday night
Asks Samaras to reach consensus and Samaras sets conditions
Earlier in the day, Papandreou had a 20-minute telephone conversation with main opposition leader of the New Democracy Party Antonis Samaras. According to sources, Papandreou apparently clarified that he would only be prepared to consider such an all-party government, even if he were not its leader, in the event that all the political parties were able to agree on a set of specific political goals, on time commitments for the negotiations and the changes that the country needs to make.
During talks with Samaras, Papandreou indicated that the country was going through critical moments with decisions of historic importance had to be made, requiring proposals of historic responsibility for the present and future of the country.
The prime minister also made it clear that if such an agreement was not possible, he was determined to stay and finish the job, as the elected prime minister of the country.
As Papandreou makes his way to Parliament citizens boo and hiss him and all the parliamentary MPs while riot police defend both sides of the street in fear of attack
Speaking with his aides in the ruling party, Papandreou relayed that he had “made his choices, taken his decisions” and was prepared to proceed either one way or another in the effort to take the country into a new era, during which Greeks would never have to go through the same things as today ever again.
The same sources claimed that during his conversation with Papandreou, ND’s president had been evasive, undecided and had avoided a substantive discussion.
Samaras answers back in televised address
Following Papandreou’s televised announcement, Samaras answers back
Just before midnight, Samaras said that he was asked by Papandreou to work in favour of a government of national salvation and admitted that he had accepted, provided that the target would be the re-negotiation of the Memorandum and the medium-term program.
Samaras also asked Papandreou to step down from power and resign because as he said “to continue with the same mistake (type of governmental policy) would be disastrous” for the nation. “I told Papandreou that such cooperation cannot be with the same prime minister (or in other words with Papandreou as captain), because “he has lost the confidence of both our society and the market.”
According to Samaras Papandreou agreed, and this also explains the mass of information leaked to the press after noon claiming that he would resign from power later on in the day. But later in the day, citizens watched Papandreou in a televised announcement saying that he refused to step down from power.
“The question now”, added Samaras, “is whether or not Mr. Papandreou can govern.” If he can, then he asked us for our support. If not, then he should call for federal elections.” The Memorandum, he concluded, has paralyzed our economy, and “I will not let it dissolve and society. It is now clear that only the people can provide a viable solution”
Outside of Parliament protestors gathered but anarchists tried to brake up demonstrations by provoking clashes with riot police.
Outside of Parliament, attack were being made on the peaceful protestors
And while all this was going on, the indignant protestors of Syntagma Square were expertly organising and co-ordinating the parliament blockade outside with public address systems, and sending people belonging to “action-groups” back and forth to ensure there are enough protesters to cover the more sensitive or empty areas. “When the people showed their determination to stay at Syntagma no matter what, various groups of hood-wearing self-proclaimed anarchists started up clashes with the police in the left side of the parliament, and, despite the reactions by the demonstrators wishing for a peaceful rally, they tried provoking a response by the police that would cut a large number of the protesters off of the main body of the crowd.
From early Wednesday, the police had been on high alert, with 5,000 police officers and 32 riot police squads on stand-by around central Athens and the major streets near Syntagma square blocked.
The agitators found a weak spot in the lower part of the square, where the become entrenched, giving the police the opportunity to attack with every available mean in order to break the demonstration, including the peaceful protesters.
The strange thing is that the agitators seemed to be coordinated to their target selection by the police’s use of stun grenades, as if it was some kind of internal code”. “Despite the extremely heavy use of tear gas by the police, people didn’t leave and would hide in the metro and then would encourage each other with chanting slogans, cheers and even traditional Greek dancing. They also helped people in the section of the rally that were cut-off by the clashes to unite with the main body of the demonstration.
Nonetheless, the anarchists continued and several people among the peaceful protesters intervened in an attempt to stop them and keep the trouble-makers away from the peaceful protests, while some people suffered minor injuries during the clashes.
Two blocks away at another barricade of protests, tension arose between the police and demonstrators, as the prime minister’s motorcade, en route to his extraordinary meeting with the President of the republic, was blocked temporarily by demonstrators throwing plastic bottles and eggs and chanting anti-government slogans.
The result of all these clashes? Thirty people – 29 men and one woman – were injured and taken to Erythros Stavros hospital and eight were immediately released after receiving first aid. According to a health ministry press release, those that remained in hospital were suffering from respiratory problems or injuries from slight blows and were not at risk. On the other hand, SKAI television reporter Tassos Telloglou was kept in for observation after exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic amnesia, after being severely attacked by unidentified individuals (who some claim were anarchists).
Video shows unidentified individuals loading and carrying clubs and steel bars right next to a swarm of police officers, just steps away from the protestors.
Are the rumors true that anarchists are working for the police?
What was totally shocking was the unmasking of one anarchist who was discovered to be a police officer. Several blogs featured pictures and videos of anarchists and riot police standing side by side to each other in various clashes… like they were working together.
Also, several pictures were broadcasted on the internet showing a male carrying clubs and crow bars from a police barricade with tens of police officers standing by. This led the protestors to believe that the anarchists were part of a darker plan to dissolve the protests, because every time they reassembled the anarchists would appear from nowhere and begin clashing with the police. The reason this affected the crowds, and hoards of people began to leave from Syntagma square is because the air was so thick with tear gas that it made breathing almost impossible.
Inside Parliament lawmakers began to discuss mid-term fiscal strategy plan
Inside the Greek Parliament, the discussion on the mid-term fiscal strategy programme began at the Economic Committee, from which the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is absent and the deputies of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) have walked out. Ruling PASOK party reporter Andreas Makrypidis made an “opening” to the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, admitting that Greece “is paying for the weaknesses of decades and not only of a few years.” Makrypidis termed the mid-term programme a “national plan for the salvation of the country” with a time horizon of four years that exceeds the time limits of the specific government.
On the part of ND, Christos Staikouras said that “the mid-term framework itself constitutes the most tangible confession of the failure of the memorandum and society is in even deeper darkness because the new measures as well show insistence on the same mistaken recipe.” Staikouras counter-proposed ND’s plan on the restarting of the economy, combined with the utilisation of the state’s property and a decrease in the deficit.