The bitter mutual recriminations between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis in parliament yesterday confirm that the fierce clashes between the two parties will continue for the foreseeable future.
Speaking during debate on the bill on social welfare hand-outs, Tsipras made clear that his strategy is “the best defense is a strong offense”.
This was particularly true when New Democracy and other opposition parties blamed the government for its handling of the recent flood disaster.
Tsipras dismissed charges that Attica prefect and top Syriza cadre Rena Dourou had been negligent with preventive anti-flooding measures, and he launched a personal attack on Mitsotakis, whose father was a conservative prime minister in the early 1990’s, describing him as “born in the purple”, and entangling him with the Paradise Papers list of tax avoiders, on which his wife’s name appears, due to a now defunct offshore that was used for business purposes.
But Mitsotakis also lashed out against the prime minister on many fronts, accusing Tsipras of leaving the country ungoverned because of inertia in various sectors of the state.
The two largest parties’ efforts to draw dividing lines between them is no easy task when any Greek government is obliged to implement to the letter bailout memorandums that micro-manage the entire Greek economy.
One area in which both parties have tried to distinguish themselves from one another is that of corruption.
Tsipras dismisses both New Democracy and Pasok as the motive force behind Greek state corruption over the forty years that they took turns in governing the country, including satisfying the patronage needs of local mayors who were ruling party members and allowing them to issue building permits for plots built on rubble-filled waterbeds, which led to the disastrous flood in Attica.
For its part, New Democracy is hammering the government over an alleged scandal in an abortive munitions sale to Saudi Arabia, in which Defense Minister and ruling coalition partner Panos Kammenos allegedly used a Greek middleman, whereas Greek law now mandates that such sales and purchases be conducted exclusively on a direct, government-to government basis.
The debate on the alleged scandal that is scheduled for Thursday promises to be brutal, as Kammenos will answer a relevant parliamentary question and New Democracy is expected to bring forth fresh evidence in the munitions affair, which was brought to the attention of authorities by a high-level military officer.
“We will talk about all that on Thursday, and I assure you that the discussion will not be easy,” Mitsotakis told Tsipras in parliament.
“You continue to provide cover for Panos Kammenos by remaining silent,” he declared.