ATHENS - The spokesman for the tiny far-right wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) said any of its seven lawmaker who vote for a deal negotiated by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will be expelled.
But ANEL’s leader, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, has himself waffled on what he’ll do, alternately saying the party will vote against the agreement and that he would take it out of the coalition but that he won’t stand in the way of the deal, leaving his stance uncertain.
ANEL is upset that the agreement gives away the name of the ancient Greek province Macedonia which abuts FYROM and that it allows residents of what would be North Macedonia to call themselves Macedonians and have a Macedonian language and identity.
ANEL spokesman Theodoros Tosounidis told an Athens TV station said that,, "I can verify that we will not support this agreement,” but refused to say if the party would vote against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is a vote of no confidence is called by political rivals.
Tosounidis said any ANEL Member of Parliament who votes for the deal will be thrown out of the party, which technically would leave the government without enough votes to control Parliament unless any of those ejected jump to SYRIZA or Tsipras finds another partner.
The warning came as two of the party’s six MPS, not including Kammenos, were said to be leaning toward backing the agreement. Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, from ANEL, has refused to say where she stands as voting against SYRIZA in defense of her party’s alleged principles would likely see her lose her position.
ANEL voted against a no confidence vote brought by the major opposition New Democracy earlier this year but Kammenos later said if it was done again that he would no longer back Tsipras, before later saying he would but that he might not.
ANEL has only seven votes, enough to give SYRIZA a coalition with a scant three-vote majority in Parliament but Kammenos and his cadres have fallen out of favor and polling around 1 percent, far below the 3 percent threshold needed to get back into Parliament in elections next year.
That happened after he too, like Tsipras, reneged on anti-austerity promises and as his allegedly law-and-order party has said nothing while anarchist and terrorist groups have rampaged across Greece’s capital, leading rivals to say the government is condoning lawlessness and violence.
The agreement, which Tsipras said he brought to end a 27-year feud with FYROM which was allowed by a New Democracy government to use the name of Macedonia in what was supposed to be a temporary acronym, needs a final vote by Greece’s neighbor on Jan. 9 before coming before the Greek Parliament in February or March.