Dissident ANEL Ministers Side With SYRIZA, Keep Positions

FILE - Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos leaves Maximos mansion following a meeting with Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in Athens, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS – After voting with their leader for four years in supporting austerity measures they vowed to reject, dissident members from the Independent Greeks (ANEL) defied him to support a deal the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA who lead the coalition made to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) – and ministers keeping their positions in the government.

ANEL Vice-President Panagiotis Sgouridis said that the party members who kept their Cabinet positions to serve Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after ANEL chief Panos Kammenos quit as Defense Minister in opposition to the FYROM deal “received political trade-offs.”

He was referring to Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Vassilis Kokkalis who said they would back Tsipras in a vote of confidence and likely keep their jobs.

It wasn’t known if they would jump from the far-right ANEL to the far-left SYRIZA with the Independent Greeks polling at only around 1 percent in surveys, far below the 3 percent needed to return to Parliament in elections this year. have indicated that they will back the government in a confidence vote this week.

“They have committed the worst offense, and all for their seat,” said Sgouridis said. “It seems that they are negotiating with the government for a vote.”

He added:. “If certain people are playing games we as ANEL will eject them,” but Kammenos had not done so as he still needed them to have a minimum of five lawmakers to form a parliamentary group so they could all retain privileges and benefits of being MPs.

Kountoura, who was out of the country as Kammenos quit but had followed his orders to vote for the SYRIZA party line, said “I unequivocally support the government to complete it work,” the Athens-Macedonia News Agency reported.

“I am staying consciously clear of petty political games and, as I’ve always done throughout my political career, I will continue to proceed seriously, responsibly and with the national interest at heart,” she said, adding the right to vote her conscience was non-negotiable now that it coincided with keeping her position.