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Greek Socialist party heavyweights urge for snap polls, referendum, capital controls
Greece's radical left party heavyweights, including several ministers, on Thursday urged for early general elections, a referendum or capital controls instead of the signing of a harsh debt deal to avert defaulting and a possible Grexit this summer.
This follows an inconclusive meeting between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Brussels on Wednesday over a possible debt deal.
Tsipras returned to Athens to brief the cabinet ahead of the next round of talks with Juncker which could be scheduled as early as Friday, according to government sources.
In statements to the media early Thursday, Tsipras insisted that the only realistic plan on the table which could lead to a mutually beneficial deal after four months of negotiations was the Greek proposal.
He welcomed concessions made by lenders regarding fiscal adjustment goals, but stressed that a series of requests by creditors on austerity measures and reforms were unacceptable for Greece.
"The creditors' proposal cannot be the basis of an honest deal," Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis commented in Greek media.
Noting that the set of measures the previous conservative government was negotiating until six months ago was less demanding than the current requests, he suggested the conduction of snap polls if the impasse is not resolved.
"We will not surrender to such demands," Deputy Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas added.
Minister of Health Panagiotis Kouroumblis and the Deputy Minister of Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis also turned down respectively any discussion on new tax hikes on medicines and energy proposed by lenders.
"We will either continue negotiations which make no sense anymore, or we will ask people again. Snap elections are inevitable," Deputy Parliament Speaker Alexis Mitropoulos said.
SYRIZA member of the European Parliament Costas Chryssogonos in the meantime backed the idea of a referendum, without clarifying what the question would be.
Yannis Milios, a prominent member of SYRIZA's central committee and an economics professor, suggested Athens delay its loan repayments to lenders. He also urged the government tackle the bank deposit outflow by introducing a 300 euros (337.63 U.S dollars) limit on daily cash withdrawals from ATMs.
The prospect of early elections just five months after January's electoral battle which brought SYRIZA in power, seems not too far away, according to political analysts and media commentators in Athens, as Tsipras faces a potential rift within his party.
In case he opts for snap elections and wins again he could move forward with a new parliamentary group which will be closer to his stance, they argued.
The main opposition, the conservative New Democracy party, reflected widespread concern of more gloomy days ahead in such a case, warning that a call for early elections at the moment instead of a deal would be catastrophic for the economy as it will further prolong uncertainty.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis dismissed calls for snap polls or capital controls on Thursday. He assured that negotiations continue and appeared confident that a deal would be clinched by the end of June.
"Greece intends to meet all its financial obligations," he said asked whether Athens will pay the 300 million euros loan installment to IMF this Friday or risk a credit event.
The statement was made amidst scenarios that Athens will be allowed to repay all installments due this June to IMF (about 1.5 billion euros) later this month so that there will be more time to reach a compromise.
Government sources said that Greece can make the June 5 installment and most likely the next one on June 12 even without aid.
[Source: By Maria Spiliopoulou, Xinhua, 04Jun15]
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