ATHENS – The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA’s provocative Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, who has called hospital workers “trash,” and engaged in public feuds with his party’s rivals, reached a new low – critics said – by saying a wheelchair-bound New Democracy candidate for a European Parliament seat to get a state health service job.
In a Facebook post, Polakis accused 34-year-old New Democracy candidate Stelios Kymbouropoulos, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child, of abusing equal hiring laws in order to be appointed, without mentioning SYRIZA hiring unqualified people, including former pizza workers, to high-level high-paying jobs.
“If you had been looking for EQUAL opportunities, Mr. Kymbouropoulos, you would have put in the paperwork to be appointed to … ESY on the judgment of a council,” Polakis said, referring to the health service by its acronym.
That was written in response to a social media message from the conservative candidate defending his position in the public sector during a time when SYRIZA has continued health care budget cuts that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he’d stop, breaking another vow.
The legion of critics of Polakis, who has made a second career of mocking a range of the party’s ideological enemies, said he was “immoral” and “vulgar,” and the remarks cruel, especially coming from a surgeon, his profession.
“I thought there would be some limit to the venality; I was wrong,” New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote on Twitter, responding to Polakis’ comments.
“Shame on you Mr. Tsipras for keeping the unscrupulous Polakis in your government,” the conservative chief added, although Tsipras has given Polakis, who has become a kind of political pit bull, free rein to attack anyone.
The newest blast came after the Parliament narrowly controlled by the government voted not to lift Polakis’ immunity so that he could face the courts on other charges brought by critics for his remarks.
Kymbouropoulos at the age of 14 was the first wheelchair-bound honor student to carry the Greek flag in the annual school parade on the October 28 national holiday.
He went on to graduate from the Athens School of Medicine with honors in 2012 and was appointed as a psychiatric attendant at Attica General Hospital in 2016.