Five Greek cabinet members resigned on Friday ahead of a planned meeting with interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos to protest a new round of harsh austerity cuts that already has the nation reeling.
Four of the five officials belonged to the radical right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally Party (LAOS) – a junior member of the ruling three-party coalition government -- sparking fears that a new $170-billion bailout from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be cancelled or postponed due to instability in the Athens government.
According to Greek media, transport minister Makis Voridis, deputy merchant marine minister Adonis Georgiadis, deputy defense minister Giorgos Georgiou and deputy agriculture minister Asterios Rondoulis all resigned after the leader of the LAOS party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, said that he would not vote in favor of the new loan agreement.
However, two of the men, Voridis and Georgiadis, said they would go against the LAOS party boss and vote in support for the new $170-billion bailout on Sunday.
LAOS has a total of 16 MPs in the parliament.
The fifth person to resign from the cabinet was deputy foreign minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, a member of the mainstream Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party.
Another PASOK official, former deputy labor Minister Yiannis Koutsoukos, resigned on Thursday, citing his refusal to abide by more austerity measures.
Papademos, who himself has only been in office for three months, might also take the opportunity to reshuffle the cabinet.
Earlier, Karatzaferis told reporters why he would not endorse the new EU/IMF loan package.
The creditors are asking for 40 years of submission,” he said.
“Greece will not give itself up. Greece can survive outside the EU but cannot survive under a German boot.”
However, Papademos insists that the new loan and accompanying austerity are necessary to save Greece.
We cannot allow Greece to go bankrupt, he told his cabinet. A disorderly default would plunge our country in a disastrous adventure. It would create conditions of uncontrolled economic chaos and social explosion.”