The discussion regarding the vote of confidence requested by the coalition government began on Wednesday afternoon and as expected, the tension was high as New Democracy and SYRIZA clashed, largely due to the Prime Minister’s decision to abstain from the proceedings in favor of attending the EU summit in Milan. The parliamentary discussion resumed on Thursday morning at 10:30 and is scheduled to continue until midnight on Friday, when the members of Parliament will take a vote.
On Wednesday SYRIZA spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis noted that Mr. Samaras’ decision was “a major political faux-pas, an insult towards Parliament and an institutional aberration”, while reminding that the Prime Minister has also abstained from all other similar sessions in Parliament in the past, with the exception of attending once November 2011. Health Minister Makis Voridis who was chosen to speak instead of PM Samaras responded that the opposition party is focusing on a “so-called procedural, regulation matter” with little significance.
When SYRIZA MP and Parliament Vice President Yannis Dragasakis took the stand he argued that “all that is needed these days for a powerful business, a major publisher – some times even an average publisher – a ship-owner or a friend of the Prime Minister to cancel a law or a fine is a phone call”, which cause fierce reaction from New Democracy. The Minister of State Dimitris Stamatis accused Mr. Dragasakis of mudslinging and demanded that he provides names.
The discussion later focused on finances, with Mr. Voridis disputing the opposition’s claims and program, while claiming that “the bailout program is ending a year and a half sooner and what will we do without ‘barbarians’, what will we talk about”. Mr. Dragasakis responded that “when the government says the bailout is ending it means that the restrictions will remain here” and questioned the government’s criteria of debt sustainability. The SYRIZA officer further repeated his party’s plan of a debt haircut, growth clause and assistance, similar to the German debt deal of 1953.
Mr. Voridis praised the efforts of the coalition government, stating that the Prime Minister was “exemplary” and that the cabinet ministers “gave their best” and set “an important example” with their occasional interventions, while claiming that the Greek “supported this effort”. Mr. Dragasakis countered that “since everything is going so well, there is no point negotiating anything” and accused the government of “not wanting to face reality” and adopting a hateful rhetoric towards the opposition
Mr. Dragasakis accused Mr. Voridis of hate speech and dubbed the Prime Minister “the architect of the horseshoe theory”. He further criticized the coalition government of giving in to troika demands on labor relations (collective dismissals, lock outs, etc) and revealed that domestic business interests were behind these demands. Mr. Dragasakis concluded by noting that “Mr. Samaras will speak at the end of proceedings, when nobody will be able to respond to him, because he is the Prime Minister of monologs”.