NEWS

PASOK and Democratic Left to submit anti-racism bill to Parliament on their own [Update]

The anti-racism bill that has been the source of a serious dispute within the three-party government, will continue to cause friction over the next few days as PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR) prepare to submit the draft law to Parliament despite the objections of New Democracy, which is going to attempt to block the legislation once it reaches the House.

The conservatives believe that existing legislation is adequate for confronting racially motivated crimes and that new laws may lead to frivolous lawsuits. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told his coalition partners – PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos and DIMAR’s Fotis Kouvelis – as much when they met Monday. But the center-left parties insist the law needs updating.

Without the support of New Democracy, the bill cannot pass through Parliament even if it has the support of main opposition SYRIZA. Independent Greeks, the Communist Party and Golden Dawn have already said they would oppose it.

ND sources said the conservatives will attempt to block the bill at the parliamentary committee stage, before it reaches the chamber.

Greece, however, came under pressure Tuesday from European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who said at a conference in Berlin that Athens must do more to tackle the far right.

In an interview broadcast on state television Net late on Monday, after the fruitless talks, Venizelos said the bill must go to Parliament. “It will be a triumph for Golden Dawn if the anti-racism bill does not go to a vote and democracy will appear passive and in retreat,” he said.

Despite the reactions of PASOK and DIMAR, sources in both parties said the rift would not undermine the coalition’s cohesion. In the words of DIMAR spokesman Dimitris Hatzisocratis, “the government’s glass has cracked; it must not break.”

Meanwhile the main leftist opposition SYRIZA is reportedly drafting its own anti-racism law with party leader Alexis Tsipras expected to brief members of the central committee on Wednesday.

Online