Coalition peers mull stance on citizenship law

The government Friday sought to play down differences between the three coalition partners over the country’s new citizenship law, currently under debate.

“There are still a couple of differences,” Deputy Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou said in Parliament Friday, adding that draft legislation was currently being reviewed by officials at New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR).

“We need a law that responds to reality and which will stand the test of time,” Athannassiou said.

In February, the Council of State deemed unconstitutional legislation passed by PASOK in early 2010 – dubbed by journalists here as the “Ragousis law” – which allowed second-generation migrants to apply for Greek citizenship and to stand in local elections.

Commentators suggest that with the unity of the coalition damaged by ongoing skirmishing over a contentious anti-racism bill, the three parties would be reluctant to unsheathe their swords over another sensitive piece of legislation.

PASOK and DIMAR this week submitted their own anti-racism bill after coalition leader ND opted not to support a bill prepared by Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis. ND claims the measures would stifle criticism on the immigration issue and play into the hands of neofascist Golden Dawn.

Aides close to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras Friday rebuffed speculation that ND’s proposal for a new citizenship law was in retaliation at its junior coalition partners.