Greece will push through pension increases next year for the first time in more than a decade, its prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.
During its decade-long financial crisis that broke out in 2009, Athens was forced by its international lenders to slash pensions more than 10 times, in order to reduce state spending and meet its fiscal targets.
The country received three international bailouts and went through major economic upheaval that caused many young Greeks to leave the country.
Mitsotakis said Greece had successfully turned a page from the financial chaos.
Reflecting on 2015, the peak of the financial crisis, when Greeks were queuing outside banks due to capital controls, he noted the country’s recent progress.
“Fortunately all this belongs to the past. Today Greece is a different Greece,” he said.
Greece’s economy is expected to expand by 3.2% this year, according to the central bank, slightly lower than previously forecasted to reflect increased uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine and inflation.
“Everyone must benefit from growth without threatening the fiscal balance or the country’s economic competitiveness,” Mitsotakis, whose term ends next year, told parliament.
The conservative premier has been under pressure by the main leftist opposition to call an early election over his government’s handling of the COVID pandemic, as well as inflation and soaring electricity prices, which have hit households hard.
“Three years are enough,” Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the leftist Syriza party, told parliament. “You need to declare today…that the country will head to elections in September,” he said.
Mitsotakis has repeatedly ruled out a snap poll and his New Democracy party is currently leading in opinion polls.
A survey conducted by Alco polling agency for Open TV, before news of the pension pledge, put the conservatives’ lead at 8.5 points, with a majority of respondents saying they expect an election in September-October.