May 25, 2011 / 7:11 AM / 8 years ago

Greece considers referendum on austerity - reports

ATHENS, May 25 (Reuters) - The Greek government is considering organising a referendum on additional austerity measures after it failed to reach consensus with the opposition, local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

Opposition leaders rejected on Tuesday belt-tightening measures aimed at averting default as lenders piled pressure on Athens for action and for reaching a broad political consensus before considering any extra help. [ID:nLDE74N139]

“According to sources, (Prime Minister) George Papandreou, seeing that a consensus with the head of the main opposition party is not possible along with the very strong objections to new tough measures within (ruling socialist party) PASOK, decided to put on the table the possibility of a referendum,” conservative daily Kathimerini said.

Government officials declined to comment on the reports, which were front page news in most Greek newspapers.

Papandreou is meeting President Karolos Papoulias at 0700 GMT. His office did not say what the meeting would be about. Papandreou often makes comments before or after such meetings.

Centre left newspaper Ta Nea said the government was considering to organise a referendum on extra austerity if its EU and IMF lenders agreed to lend it more money to plug funding shortfalls for next year.

“According to sources, the government is mainly considering the possibility of a referendum to approve a new memorandum, provided that the new 60-billion-euros funding is agreed with the (EU/IMF/ECB) troika, in order to deal with the expected lack of access to markets in 2012,” Ta Nea wrote.

Paymasters at the European Union have said broad political consensus is necessary for more aid, given the need to plug a funding gap next year.

“The big changes for the country are a national necessity. This is the main reason I am seeking the broadest possible political consensus,” Papandreou told Greek businesses on Tuesday after the main conservative opposition said it would not back his policies.

The conservative New Democracy party, which last year voted against the EU/IMF bailout deal, claims austerity is choking the economy and impeding it from growing out of its debt mess. (Reporting by Tatiana Fragou and Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Ingrid Melander)

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