Following an outcry by Syriza MPs and after the Communist party’s demand for a roll call vote, the government withdrew a provision, from a bill protecting notaries who conduct foreclosed properties auctions, that verbal threats against notaries are punishable with a jail sentence.
The bill was tabled following an understanding with Greece’s lenders that property auctions must go forward unhindered, so as to free Greek banks from the huge burden of non-performing loans, which threaten the stability of the banking system.
About two dozen Syriza MPs met to discuss the issue before the vote. There, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos pleaded with his colleagues to pass the measure so as to avert a falling out with creditors.
Tsakalotos neither confirmed nor denied reports that he had telephoned MPs to warn that if they did not vote for the measure the government would be toppled.
Main opposition New Democracy, the Democratic Alliance and To Potami voted “present”, in an apparent effort to show respect for the right to protest while signaling to creditors that they are not opposing a measure agreed to by the government.
Far right Golden Dawn, the Communist Party and the Centrists’ Union voted down the measure.
Relieved Syriza MPs applauded Kontonis for withdrawing the jail sentence for threats against notaries, but they also demanded a meeting of the parliamentary group after the holidays, to discuss legislation that will protect debtors’ primary residences from seizures, after the current protections expire at the end of 2018.