Thu, Apr 12, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Greek parliament ties up loose ends before snap polls

AFP, ATHENS

Greek lawmakers wrapped up their legislative activity late on Tuesday ahead of snap elections expected next month as a poll predicted an uncertain outcome due to anger over austerity measures.

The 300-seat chamber approved a labor bill restructuring social security funds, the last piece of legislation that the caretaker government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos had pledged to pass before the ballot at the behest of the country’s creditors, the EU and IMF.

Under an amendment adopted late at night a “closed center” would be set up near Athens for immigrants without papers, the first of some 30 nationwide announced recently by Socialist Minister for Protection of the Citizen Michalis Chryssohoides.

The opposition parties on the left and far-right voted against the amendment, charging the centrist coalition was holding a “last-minute” vote on immigration problems that had been there for years.

“This parliamentary period draws to a close,” parliament speaker Philippos Petsalnikos told the chamber.

Papademos was expected to submit his resignation yesterday to Greek President Carolos Papoulias, who would then issue a decree dissolving parliament and calling for elections within 30 days.

According to ministers and other officials, May 6 is the most likely date.

“All the conditions are present for elections on May 6,” Antonis Samaras, head of the conservative New Democracy party that leads opinion polls, told private Mega television in an interview on Monday.

Mega released a poll giving New Democracy a four-point lead over coalition partner the socialist Pasok party, which is narrowing the gap under its new leader, former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos.

The survey by pollsters GPO suggests that with just 18.2 percent of the vote, New Democracy may be unable to form a majority government.

Amid mounting anger over two years of painful austerity, nearly one in five respondents did not give a party preference and over 3 percent said they would support a neo-Nazi party, giving them enough votes to enter parliament.

Papademos took over in November last year as head of a coalition backed by New Democracy and Pasok to complete a debt-saving bond swap with private creditors.

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