Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Athens, Party Aims to Delay Austerity

Wall Street Journal
June 13, 2012

The leader of Greece's conservative New Democracy party on Wednesday pledged to seek a two-year extension on deadlines set under the country's painful austerity program if he wins Sunday's general election—a campaign promise likely to run into stiff opposition from Athens's international creditors.

Antonis Samaras said his party will do all it can to form a government after last month's inconclusive vote, provided potential coalition partners support Greece's efforts to stay in the euro zone and help renegotiate terms of the country's €130 billion ($160 billion) second bailout agreement.

"I don't want to believe that there is anything that cannot be bridged," he told reporters. "We must not have elections again."

In the most recent polls, two weeks ago, New Democracy appeared likely to emerge from the election as the strongest party, followed closely by the leftist Syriza party, which strongly opposes the bailout's stiff terms.

Among the first tasks of the new government will be approval by the end of June of €11.5 billion in cutbacks needed to fill fiscal gaps in 2013-2014.

Mr. Samaras said he will seek to spread those cuts over four years. He said conditions are more conducive to softening Greece's reform program after Spain recently secured a €100 billion bank-rescue plan underwritten by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.


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