The leader of the main opposition party in Greece, Alexis Tsipras, called on Tuesday for the immediate dissolution of the Greek Parliament and the calling of early elections within three weeks, due to a scandal of listening to politicians, soldiers and journalists by the secret services. The Greek prime minister, the conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, managed last Friday to overcome a motion of no confidence presented by the leftist Syriza.
“We are not going to legalize this deviation”
The Mitsotakis government “must not stay in power another minute”, Tsipras said at a press conference in which he announced that he will abstain from all voting in the Hellenic Parliament. “This government for us and for every democratic citizen has fallen morally and politically. We are not going to legalize this unprecedented deviation,” said the leader of the leftist party.
Tsipras remarked that as of this Tuesday his party will abstain from all voting in the Hellenic Parliament, except for its efforts to carry out a bill that contemplates prohibiting the participation of neo-Nazi parties in the elections. “As long as the prime minister refuses to do the obvious, to appeal to the judgment of the Greek people for what he has committed against democracy and the rule of law, Syriza will not legitimize the legislative work of a government that produced a democratic deviation“, said the reference of the opposition.
Motion of no confidence dodged
On Friday, Mitsotakis overcame a motion of censure that Tsipras had filed a day after the director of the Communications Privacy Guarantee Authority (ADAE), Jristos Rammos, confirmed in a letter that the Hellenic secret services listened to the current Minister of Labor and former head of Energy and Environment, Kostís Jatzidakis, and to the country’s military leadershipincluding the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Konstantinos Floros.
Rammos confirmed that these people were observed thanks to the information he obtained from the telephone operators who had carried out the wiretapping at the request of the National Intelligence Service (EYP). Despite being one of the people who were heard according to the ADAE, the minister Kostís Jatzidakis supported the prime minister during the debate prior to the vote and pointed out that “he cannot be related to this case at all.”
The motion that required an absolute majority of 151 votes (Parliament has 300 seats) was rejected by the 156 deputies from Mitsotakis’s New Democracy party, while the entire opposition voted in favor. During the pre-vote debate, Mitsotakis avoided shedding light on the scandal and once again denied that he knew of, much less ordered, the secret services (which the prime minister directly oversees after a legal reform passed as soon as New Democracy took office) to observe politicians, soldiers, journalists or businessmen.
Instead, the prime minister accused the opposition of trying to create “a toxic and polarizing atmosphere”, and with his eyes already set on the elections, he reproached him for not having concrete proposals for the future of the country. For his part, Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of being the “coordinator” of the wiretapping, a case that constitutes a “unprecedented violation of the rule of law”while stressing that if the prime minister continues to avoid shedding light on the scandal, it will mean “a new admission of guilt” on his part.
The next elections on the horizon
The Greek media have been publishing for months the names of politicians, including government party ministers, journalists, business leaders and the military who were allegedly heard by the EYP. After the official confirmation by ADAE, the spokesman for the Executive attacked the director of the Authority and pointed out that it is possible that there were “dark networks” in the secret services that acted on his behalf, without the prime minister being aware of it. .
The wiretapping case broke out last July when Nikos Androulakis, an MEP and head of the Greek socialist party, filed a complaint assuring that someone had tried on several occasions to infect his cell phone with the Predator software. The scandal led to the resignation of the head of the secret services and that of a nephew and advisor to the prime minister.
Although the scandal has a direct impact on the figure of Mitsotakis, so far does not appear to have had a significant impact in citizen support for the government party, than in public opinion polls continues to lead with an average of seven points over Syriza.
However, what is a blow to New Democracy is that the scandal has diminished, not to say eliminated, the possibility of forming a coalition with the Social Democrats of Pasok-Kinal, the third political force. This is in case they do not obtain an absolute majority again in the next elections, the date of which has not yet been announced, but scheduled for some time in the spring, between April and May.
In his conference this Tuesday, Alexis Tsipras pointed out that the issue of the democratic functioning of the country raised last week by Syriza in Parliament is no longer only a concern of parliamentarians, but also of the ten million Greeks. In this context, the left referent called the opposition forces “to put aside any differences and create a solid wall of defense of democracy”.