Greek elections: Deluge of reactions from SYRIZA’s Giorgos Katrougalos’ statements on tax
Reactions caused by George Katrougalos’ statement about the insurance contributions were immediate and came in droves, resulting in the former minister’s withdrawal from the elections after communication with party leader Alexis Tsipras.
In fact, the president of SYRIZA with his exclusive intervention in (in the context of the interview that will be published today Friday) made it clear that in SYRIZA’s program “there is no increase in contributions” and he “let” Giorgos Katrougalos “go”.
However, many are now talking about “damage control” less than 72 hours before the polls since the position on insurance contributions caused strong protests from self-employed professionals and freelancers, with the New Democracy taking advantage of Katrougalou’s “self goal” and talking about a “hidden agenda” of SYRIZA.
The controversial statement
From Wednesday night onwards, the first issue in the pre-election debate was the placement of Mr. Katrougalos on Blue Sky television.
The former Minister of Labor of the SYRIZA government emphasized that “the logic of the insurance reform was that whatever the employee pays, self-employed persons should also pay. This led in 80% of cases to lower insurance premiums than they were paying before.”
Asked by the current Minister of Development Adonis Georgiadis, who was a guest on the same show, if he would restore the Katrougalou law, named after him, he answered “yes” and explained: “It is perfectly logical that the insurance obligation is linked to income and not to an arbitrary amount selection”.
Then on Thursday morning, Giorgos Katrougalos tried to “collect” his statement by writing on Twitter: “New Democracy is trying not to discuss contested and essential issues, but to shape the agenda with pseudo-issues of its own construction. The SYRIZA-PS positions on insurance are in our program. We are committed to strengthening pensioners with the 13th pension, the retrospective return of these and increases to those with a personal difference and to abolish the privatization of supplementary insurance.
In relation to the contributions, I expressed my personal opinion, that it is better that most people pay less and that no one is overburdened. The SYRIZA program does not envisage any change in the burden on the self-employed persons or employees in relation to their insurance contributions, which has been published for a long time and everyone has had the opportunity to study it. The changes it foresees for their lives are known: Increase in income by increasing the tax-free allowance and abolishing the pretense tax. Reduction of prices with the reduction of VAT and excise tax. Debt settlement, with suspension of first home auctions. And a just state, that stands by their needs”.
Tsipras called, Katrougalos resigned
However, as hours passed, reactions grew, resulting in direct communication between Alexis Tsipras and Giorgos Katrougalos telling him to withdraw from the elections since what he said was not in line with the party’s program.
The president of SYRIZA spoke on the phone with Mr. Katrougalos and asked him not to be a candidate in the elections, with the former minister immediately agreeing, in order not to give more leverage to New Democracy just before the elections.
That was finally what happened. With his new post, the former minister noted that: “I am watching the drama staged by New Democracy on the occasion of my statement yesterday about insurance contributions. I made it clear since this morning that I was referring to personal positions of principle and not to the programmatic positions of SYRIZA-PS, which have been published for some time. The slanders of New Democracy about a “hidden agenda” are false.
The Left always speaks the language of truth. If there was a hidden agenda, would I voluntarily reveal it two days before the election? But the damage is being done, with instrumentalized by the right-wing propaganda empire. I won’t make it easy for them. After all, my involvement in politics was never in terms of personal interest, but in terms of contributing.
I left the European Parliament when I was invited to the first SYRIZA government and I did not take on the hot potato of the insurance reform with ignorance of risk. I take full political responsibility for my position yesterday and declare that I am withdrawing from the electoral battle.”
SYRIZA: Anyone who deviates from the Change Agreement, whether consciously or by mistake, puts themselves outside
SYRIZA, in its relevant announcement on the Katrougalos issue, made it clear that: “The middle class, with great sacrifices, paid dearly for the crisis and the arrogant policies of Mr. Mitsotakis who did not care. So the middle class is only entitled to relief.”
It then added that: “The Change Agreement of the SYRIZA PS is absolutely clear in this regard. It is our collective vision, our moral obligation, that binds us to realize this. Anyone who deviates from the Contract for Change, whether consciously or by mistake, puts themselves outside the collective effort for the great change.
The Greek people on Sunday will be asked to sign the Change and Confidence Contract and only this. And to judge us by its implementation”.
Katrougalos name on the SYRIZA ballot papers
It is worth noting that the name of Giorgos Katrougalos will remain on the SYRIZA ballot in the northern sector of Athens, although he withdrew from the electoral battle.
Specifically, after questions raised to the Ministry of the Interior regarding the resignation statement of Mr. Katrougalos, sources of the Directorate of Elections state that given the fact that his candidacy has been declared by the Supreme Court, it remains in force. In the event that Mr. Katrougalos is elected, he has the right to surrender his seat.
Also, even if he is elected he will not be on the SYRIZA lists for the next election which is estimated to take place (unless a government is formed after this Sunday’s elections), on July 2nd.
The Tsipras reference in his keynote address in Syntagma Square
Alexis Tsipras returned to the Katrougalou issue on Thursday night, in his speech at the central pre-election gathering of SYRIZA at Syntagma.
“I will not and will not allow anyone to deviate even by an iota from this Contract. Either consciously or unconsciously”, he said characteristically and added that “this Contract is at the same time an inspired contract. Not just for the weak but also for the middle class. We have a moral obligation to support and give respite, especially to the middle class, which has been excessively and unfairly burdened with all the burdens of the memoranda. And and was brutally deceived by Mr. Mitsotakis.”
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