ATHENS – With speculation growing of a break between the parties, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA would seek to stay in power as a minority government if its junior coalition partner the Independent Greeks (ANEl) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos leave or are booted.
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said he doesn’t believe a vote of no-confidence would be brought against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with Kammenos – who voted against that proposition last year – alternately saying he would no longer back the Premier but that he would.
The seven votes of ANEL, along that one of alleged Independent, give SYRIZA a scant three-vote majority of 153 in the 300-member Parliament and Tsipras needs Kammenos’ party, an ideological rival, to keep the government intact. Without ANEL for whatever reason, Tzanakopoulos said SYRIZA wants to rule anyway and would seek a “vote of tolerance” – to survive with only 120 lawmakers, one-third of Parliament, and not a majority, as a bulwark against a no-confidence vote surviving, if not for legislation.
Constitutional experts told Kathimerini that a minority government would not last long. Major opposition New Democracy spokesperson Maria Spyraki, whose party brought the previous no-confidence vote against Tsipras that failed when Kammenos and ANEL backed him, said a minority government would lack legitimacy and that the Conservatives might bring another censure motion.
The tension between Tsipras and Kammenos has been growing with the Defense Minister saying he would order his six lawmakers to alo vote against a deal the anti-nationalist Premier made with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to rename the country North Macedonia, giving away the name of the ancient Greek province Macedonia.
Tsipras said he has enough votes to get the deal done despite opposition from Kammenos and two-thirds of Greeks in surveys showing their disdain for the agreement.
In an election year, Tsipras is seeking to hang onto power with polls showing he is far behind New Democracy and while he’s said to be counting on halting pension cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 1, holiday handouts and plans to roll back some austerity measures he imposed after swearing he would reject them as a way to regain voter support.
Besides the FYROM question, Tsipras is also facing battles over his plan to separate Church and State and to revise the Constitution in a way New Democracy said would benefit the Leftists as part of what it called a political agenda of sorts.