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Greek PM Threatens Early National Elections

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Sunday threatened to call early national elections if his socialist party fares poorly during the November 7th local elections.  The Prime Mininster claimed the opposition conservative party would undermine austerity reforms.
In remarks to the weekend newspaper Real News, later confirmed by his office, Papandreou said: “I am not bluffing and the crisis we are facing is not a bluff. There is an existing risk for the country if we subscribe to the main conservative opposition New Democracy, since the danger of turning back would mean our sacrifices going to waste.”
The ruling party’s popularity appears to be waning ahead of the local elections after a year of harsh austerity measures.  These include wage and pension cuts and tax hikes in exchange for the 110 billion Euro bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union signed in May to prevent default.
“We came within a whisker of the nightmare of bankruptcy…I owe citizen’s the truth. This is not a manufactured threat [of early elections] and this is no time for small minded politics,” Papandreou said.
This is the second time within a week that the Prime Minister has talked about early nationals polls, leading to sharply widening local bond spreads and significantly denting the share prices on the Athens stock exchange since early national polls could derail reform efforts.
“If our course starts to be doubted and if we show that we are losing resolve mid way on this road this will be destabilizing and confidence in the country will be lost. Greece will again become favorite front page news and international media will be forecasting our imminent bankruptcy,” the Prime Minister stated.
Papandreou has turned the local elections into a referendum on his government’s efforts at fiscal adjustments and reforms, raising the stakes and putting his own personal popularity on the line to curtail a potential protest vote against recent austerity by the electorate next Sunday.
“In such a situation there will be no other solution than for the Greek people to speak and decide on the country’s future course,” Papandreou added.
The Prime Minister has not defined what he would consider a sufficient enough poor showing for his ruling PASOK party to take debt laden Greece to national polls after only a year of his government’s life.
“In a democracy there are no insoluble problems. The salvation and transformation of the country is a matter for the people and not just an enlightened political elite,” Papandreou claimed.
“The November 7th local elections require a vote of responsibility for the course of the country at this critical time,” Papandreou added.

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