Mutual blackmailing, base bargaining, and intense behind-the-scenes discussions are all part of the effort over the last few days by the leader of the Independent Greeks party – which until the ratification of the Greece-FYROM Prespa Agreement was the junior coalition partner in the SYRIZA-led government – to retain the status and privileges of a parliamentary party (which requires at least five MPs).
During the parliamentary ratification process, party leader Panos Kammenos chose to lose MPs (who defected to back the accord) and party cadres and to end his partnership with PM Alexis Tsipras, figuring that this was the only way that he could save himself politically and gain an advantage in the forthcoming general election.
Kammenos saw the shift to conservatism triggered by the backlash on the Macedonia naming issue and counted on a political rebirth by donning the mantle of the super-patriotic nationalist.
His tactic was cold and calculated, but he was too clever by half.
He did not realise in time that his (until recently) coalition partner had approached his MPs and cadres so as to use them as reserves.
He was convinced that the Prespa Agreement would not be ratified either in Skopje or in Athens.
His prediction proved false and his plans collapsed.
He suffered a crushing blow and he has not been able to reconcile himself with total defeat.
This explains his behaviour. At times he unleashes invective against his erstwhile government partners and at others he beseeches and bargains with them.
Unfortunately, those former partners are acting guiltily. They discuss with him institutionally improper solutions and are ready to interpret parliamentary rules as they see fit so that Mr. Kammenos can retain his privileges.
They do not realise that in this manner they are degrading Parliament and debasing the country’s political life.
Whatever they may come up with they cannot address the “pending institutional issue” of the lack of a parliamentary majority, which arose after the institutional machinations which facilitated the ratification of the Prespa Accord.
Instead, they will continue to sink even as they resort to even more problematic practices that degrade institutions.
Only a general election can offer a way out of the current impasse. The sooner this occurs, the better for everyone. A prolongation of the current situation will only cause harm.