ATHENS – Upon the conclusion of the prime minister’s speech, the three-day debate on a censure motion against the government, tabled by main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, came to an end on Friday afternoon and the voting process via an open roll-call vote began.
The government, which has a 156-seat absolute majority in the house, is expected to defeat the censure motion, which requires an absolute majority of all MPs, or 150+1 votes to pass. The MPs can vote in favour, against or abstain, while they can also submit postal votes that are sent to the presidency and count toward the total.
The 34-hour debate concluded with the speeches of the political party leaders and Prime Minister Kyriakos
Mitsotakis: Democracy will be protected by an ND victory in the upcoming elections
“Democracy will be protected through a New Democracy victory in the upcoming elections. We are nearing the end of the four-year term. It is my estimate that the citizens will once again relegate you to the opposition; they do not forget, they evaluate and either reward or punish,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday, addressing the main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance party during the last day of the debate in Parliament on a censure motion against the government tabled by main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.
Mitsotakis noted that he has been calling on SYRIZA-PA to table a censure motion for the last five months, which it had finally done, and that this, along with general elections, was the way that political parties resolve their differences.
Tsipras accuses prime minister of lying regarding phone tappings
The leader of main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Alexis Tsipras, stressed during an address in Parliament on Friday that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has an obligation to provide the Greek people with “answers” regarding the wiretappings. He also suggested that Mitsotakis had known what was happening and lied about it.
“You knew everything and for six months you lied everywhere. Lies upon lies,” Tsipras said.
He was speaking during a three-day debate to discuss a motion of censure against the government, tabled by SYRIZA-PA on Wednesday over the phone tapping affair.
“The time of crisis comes at some point,” Tsipras said, accusing the prime minister of resorting to “cover-ups, blackmail, terrorism, illegality,” in efforts to avoid this moment.
In spite of everything that the prime minister had done, Tsipras added, he was now “face to face with the truth” that he had tried “to hide in the dark for six months….with the Greek people who are awaiting answers and explanations”.
The leader of the main opposition spoke of “a violation of the rule of law of unprecedented depth and extent,” and also of “an unprecedented institutional and Constitutional deviation”, which, as he said, the prime minister could “no longer deny” had happened.
PASOK accuses New Democracy and SYRIZA of ‘setting a scene of polarization’
“New Democracy and SYRIZA, on the occasion of the wiretapping case, are setting a scene of polarisation and acrimony with divisive and extreme rhetoric in order to trap the citizens. PASOK-Movement for Change will neither participate nor assist in this vulgar performance,” the leader of the PASOK-Movement for Change parliamentary group Michalis Katrinis said in his speech to Parliament on Friday, during the debate on a censure motion against the government.
“Our autonomous course is a strategic choice. And it’s time they realised this in both New Democracy and SYRIZA, which supposedly wants to cooperate with us, after first failing to destroy us, as it tried to do,” he underlined and severely criticized both the government and SYRIZA.
“This weak bipartisanship seems to need polarisation, tension and acrimony. It uses it to trap the citizens in choosing either New Democracy or SYRIZA. However, the country certainly does not need it,” Katrinis said, stressing that New Democracy and SYRIZA are intolerant towards different point of views and the protection of institutions and the rule of law from authoritarian attitudes and views.
The opposition party’s leader, Nikos Androulakis, was elected as an MEP and is not a member of the Hellenic Parliament.
With 156 of 300 Parliament seats in the hands of his ruling New Democracy, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to fend off a no-confidence vote filed by the major opposition SYRIZA in a sign the campaign ahead of spring elections has begun in earnest.
Three days of perfunctory, predictable debate between the rivals, with other parties eager to jump in and cash in on media attention for a share of the spotlight, ends Jan. 27 before a vote Mitsotakis will win, barring the unforeseen.
SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras, who rebranded his party from the Radical Left to Progressive after taking a bad beating in July, 2019 snap elections, is trying to seize the moment with Mitsotakis still hindered by attacks over the phone tapping of 15,745 people, including some of his own government ministers and top military leaders.
“For the past six months, Greek society has been witness to disclosures of an inconceivable number of phone taps, the deepest deviation from rule of law that the country has seen in its modern history,” said Tsipras.
He added “We have a historic duty to act,” as he accused Mitsotakis of creating an “Orwellian dystopia,” referring to the book 1984 and a Big Brother sense of everyone being surveilled.
Tsipras piled on, reported the British newspaper The Guardian of the debate, accusing Mitsotakis of directing the wiretapping of public figures while trying to hide “moral bankruptcy,” in obstructing investigations.
“(He) will be forced to come to Parliament – even if he constantly wants to run away – to give explanations, to be accountable, to answer,” said Tsipras, who was prime minister from 2015-19, a reign during which he broke a 40-point platform of vows.
Mitsotakis has responded by not responding to the debate, instead lauding what he said were his party’s achievements during the waning COVID-19 pandemic, including bringing in foreign investors and creating an economic recovery.
TAKING A SHOT
While his rhetoric was seen by the ruling party as campaign bluster and grandstanding because the motion would be defeated, Tsipras nonetheless said he was acting “for the defense of democracy, transparency and justice.
Even if he loses, Tspiras will have gained three days of valuable air time and exposure and New Democracy’s lead in polls, once as high as 14 percent fell to 7.5 percent before the debate and then down to 5.9 percent.
The debate has also given Greece’s third most popular and rising party, the PASOK-KINAL Movement for Change center-left an opportunity because it’s now led by a Member of the European Parliament, Nikos Androulakis, whose phone was one of those being bugged.
He has ratcheted up his criticism too, especially with the government accused by its rivals of impeding a probe by the head of the country’s independent authority dealing with privacy issues which wanted phone records.
Androulakis said an attempt was also made to install Predator spyware on his phone, which the government denied it had done even while the National Intelligence Service EYP admitted bugging phones for “national security.”
A parliamentary panel formed to look into surveillance was dominated by New Democracy lawmakers and essentially quashed any attempt to make details public, and anyone revealing information could be prosecuted.
“We are experiencing an unbelievable situation, our democracy has been fractured and this is dangerous,” SYRIZA spokeswoman Popi Tsapanidou told the TV channel Kontra in bringing more heat.
Pointing the finger at Mitsotakis and his government, she said that, “They are doing whatever they can to cover up the issue. The government will not give any answers but, on our part, we will continue to press them. The people will also press them in the future and this will be reflected in the ballot box results.”