The leader of the rightwing Laos party, junior partner in the Greek coalition government, has appealed to the European Union to ease the terms of the country’s second €130bn bail-out, or risk triggering a “social explosion”..
Mr Karatzaferis’s warning raises doubts about whether he will sign up to the deal, although EU negotiators insist that all the main political parties in Athens must do so – in writing – before the next phase of the Greek rescue can be finalised.
While Laos (People’s party) has only 16 seats in the Greek parliament, its anti-European line is echoed by lawmakers in Pasok, the socialist party that lost power in November but is now part of the three-party coalition headed by Lucas Papademos, Greece’s technocrat prime minister. Antonis Samaras, the conservative leader, has also warned that Greece cannot take more austerity.
Mr Karatzaferis said in a letter to José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and all the party leaders in the European Parliament that the next round of reforms would cause economic collapse and social unrest “of a kind that Europe has not seen for decades”.
About 160,000 jobs will be lost this year in the commerce sector, according to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) as the constant decline in disposable income has led to a sharp drop in turnover and a steep rise in the number of enterprises shutting down.
The jobs to be lost concern 60,000 employers and 100,000 employees in the sector, ESEE expects. Given the data for a 6.2 percent fall in household consumption in 2011 and the Eurostat forecast for a further decline by 4.3 percent this year, ESEE warns that soon Greece will be in a condition of absolute poverty.
With 60,000 enterprises having shut down since the start of the crisis to date, their number is set to double by the end of this year, ESEE estimates.