PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos’ characterization of protesters upset with bond losses he imposed on them as “fascist-like,” drew a sharp rebuke from the right-wing Independent Greeks party ahead of the May 25 elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament.
Venizelos, who, as finance minister in a previous government stiffed investors with 74 percent losses to write down Greece’s debt during an ongoing economic crisis, said the protesters were also “disruptive,” as they heckled him before police stopped them and detained four demonstrators for jeering.
He is Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras’ coalition government and was trying to rally voters while speaking at a gathering of the Elia (Olive Tree) at the Benaki Museum. PASOK, falling to 3-5 support in polls, tied itself to Elia in a desperate bid to keep from disappearing.
The Independent Greeks, made up of New Democracy rejects and outcasts, is opposed to the austerity measures the government has imposed on the orders of international lenders.
Samaras, in a campaign promise, said he would restore the losses suffered by investors and bondholders, including those in the Diaspora who suffered heavy losses in the so-called Private Sector Initiative (PSI) implemented by Venizelos, but reneged on that vow as soon as he took office.
Some of them even invaded New Democracy’s headquarters and vandalized his portrait, but Greek courts upheld the PSI as necessary for the national security.
“Instead of arresting those who defrauded and stole the money of retail bond-holders, they detain those who are demanding the money that was taken away from them in the haircut,” Independent Greeks spokesman Terence Quick said on May 22.
“The phrase ‘fascist-like’ uttered by Evangelos Venizelos [against the protesters] is better suited to [Venizelos] himself and his coalition government,” he said.
About 11,000 thousand people saw a huge chunk of their investments vanish in the debt restructuring program as part of Greece’s bailout deal with the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).