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Politics

Tsipras: Gov’t Using Pandemic as a Ruse to Curtail Parliamentary Process

ATHENS — "It is your intention to use a very difficult circumstance for all of us as a ruse to curtail the parliamentary process and the functioning of democracy itself," main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras asserted on Thursday in Parliament, in a reply to Parliament President Konstantinos Tasoulas.

Earlier, Tsipras had attacked the government during the debate on draft legislation on the joint custody of the children of divorced couples and accused it of "battering democracy". He said that a "parliament in lockdown" was being used to rush through legislation that was critical for the country and to approve a "storm of directly awarded public contracts … sharing out public money to cronies without accountability".

He also strongly criticised the prime minister's absence, saying it showed "contempt for parliament and its parties," as well as the parliament president's refusal to organise an off-the-agenda debate on these issues, as requested by the main opposition.

Tsipras was scathing about the fact that MPs were allowed to address parliament remotely but not allowed to vote online, suggesting this was due to the ruling party's "inability to get your MPs to back the party line" and was "converting an internal party problem to a problem of democracy." He demanded "an immediate end to the quarantine of democracy and the lockdown of parliament," and said it was shameful for parliament to remain locked down when everything else, from kindergartens to tourism and restaurants, was reopening.

The government's aim, he added, was to push through bills like those on pharmaceutical cannabis, the cooperation memoranda with North Macedonia and others that his parliamentary group did not agree on.

He announced that SYRIZA MPs will henceforth attend parliamentary sessions as normal, observing all the necessary health protection measures. He criticised the joint custody bill, saying it treated children like real estate to be divided up between the parents, while failing to take into account the continued disparities in income and work opportunities between men and women.

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