Kouvelis Says DIMAR Won’t Re-Join Coalition

Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis

ATHENS – With Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition of his New Democracy Conservatives and PASOK Socialists down to a four-vote majority in Parliament, an entreaty for one of its former partner – the Democratic Left (DIMAR) – to return has been rebuffed.

DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis, whose party has only 14 seats in the 300-member Parliament, said he’s not coming back and said he wouldn’t align his party with the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) either although he couched those remarks.

Kouvelis took DIMAR out of the government earlier this fall when he refused to go along with continued austerity measures and the firing of workers at the former state broadcaster ERT.

“DIMAR disagrees with the government’s current policy but also with everything that SYRIZA says,” he said. “This means that there is no basis for a policy-led cooperation with one side or the other. If this changes in the future then we will re-examine the possibility,” he added.

His party is floundering in the 3 percent territory in the polls, the threshold needed to be elected to Parliament but after PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos booted one of his lawmakers, Theodora Tzakri, for supporting a motion brought by SYRIZA to censure Samaras for ordering riot police to evict the former ERT workers from the station’s headquarters it left the government with a bare majority of lawmakers.

New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyannis, a once-powerful political figured reduced to the fringes of the party, called for DIMAR to rejoin the coalition government but it was met with divided reaction as some party officials were already talking about creating a cooperation with its bitter rival SYRIZA if the leftists win the next election.

Before rejecting working with any other party, Kouvelis – often accused of waffling – said he might change his mind and work with SYRIZA after all. “Of course,” was his response to a question by the Action24 TV station regarding whether there was a possibility of a leftist coalition in the future. “Greece has abandoned one-party governments. We need coalitions.”

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras spoke to his parliamentary group and defended outspoken MP and author Petros Tatsopoulos following attacks within the party.

Tatsopoulos recently opposed cooperating with Independent Greeks and suggested SYRIZA should be open to cooperation with other leftists or even PASOK. After the meeting, Tatsopoulos said that Tsipras’s reaction convinced him to abandon his threat of resigning from the party due to the criticism he had received.