ATHENS – The Greek Parliament speaker ruled March 30 that the main opposition party’s motion of no-confidence in Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is inadmissible, ensuring that debate on a bill introducing market reforms agreed with the country’s lenders can continue.
Under parliamentary rules, debate on the motion would have taken precedence over any other item on the agenda. Debate on the bill will now go on until midnight and a vote will follow.
The opposition Radical Left Coalition, known by its Greek acronym SYRIZA, opposes the reforms contained in the bill, which notably opens up several retail sectors to more competition.
The party also accuses the government of trying to ram through, using an emergency debate procedure, a bill running into hundreds of pages without proper debate and adding clauses that would favor banks and certain businessmen.
Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis based his ruling on Greece’s constitution, which says six months must elapse between two motions of no-confidence in the government.
He said SYRIZA’s motion against a minister implementing the government’s policy amounts to one against the government since it does not touch on the minister’s personal conduct.
Following the speaker’s ruling, SYRIZA’s lawmakers left the debate and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, tabled a motion of no-confidence in the speaker. Debate on that motion does not take precedence over the current debate on the bill and will take place either March 31 or April 4.
SYRIZA’s motion against the finance minister was backed by most opposition parties except for Democratic Left, which spent a year in government with the conservative New Democracy and the socialist PASOK parties before leaving last summer over policy differences.
The government wants to have the bill approved before an informal meeting of EU finance ministers and central bankers in Athens April 1-2. Greece holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency.