ATHENS – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists, expect they will win a vote of confidence in the Parliament their parties control.
Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, called the vote to shore up support for the parties after polls showed the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) galloping out to an 11-point lead on the back of opposing austerity measures the government imposed on orders of international lenders.
New Democracy has 126 votes and PASOK has 28, giving the parties a 154-vote majority in the 300-member Parliament and the leaders expect all their lawmakers will fall in line as they face ejection otherwise.
Samaras appears confident that all of his deputies will do as they are told, even though the government only needs 146 votes to secure a majority as nine Golden Dawn MPs will not vote since they are in pre-trial custody awaiting trial on charges of running a criminal gang.
It would be a pyrrhic victory for the government as the parties lawmakers are told how to vote and have a majority, but Samaras is eager to show he has support in the face of withering criticism from SYRIZA, which wants early elections and can force them in February, 2015 if it can block election of the next Greek President to a symbolic office.
The vote has now been set for Oct. 10 and will come after several days of perfunctory debate in which New Democracy and PASOK lawmakers will back their parties and the opposition won’t.
“I do not think that any of the government’s lawmakers are irresponsible enough to bring it down,” said PASOK’s Panayiotis Rigas, speaking to Alpha Radio.
Socialist deputy Thanos Moraitis, who has previously hinted he might not vote for the government’s presidential candidate in February, suggested that he has no intention of failing to support the coalition in next week’s ballot.
A number of PASOK and New Democracy lawmakers have barked out public complaints before only to fall in line and support their parties, especially as Samaras made PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos his Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister in return for backing pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings that could be the downfall of both.
On PASOK’s side, the only serious doubt is about how former party leader George Papandreou will vote. Relations between Venizelos and his predecessor are poor and there has been no contact between the two men but Papandreou would have to vote against the party his father founded, an unlikely event.
Samaras will not be in Parliament for the start of the confidence vote debate on Oct. 8 as he will be taking part in the European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels.