Bill axing state bodies approved after article cut

A controversial bill foreseeing the abolition of 21 state organizations as part of a broader overhaul of the state sector demanded by the troika was voted through Parliament Thursday despite three days of tense debate over its provisions in the House and only after Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis withdrew a particularly unpopular article foreseeing the closure of a labor institute.

The bill passed into law with the number of votes on the separate provisions ranging from 142 to 158 in favor and from 76 to 88 against in the 300-seat House. A large number of opposition party deputies did not even attend the vote.

Earlier in the day, Mitsotakis withdrew Article 8 of the bill, which foresaw the abolition of the National Institute of Labor and Human Resources (EIEAD), a Labor Ministry body, following protests by several MPs of PASOK, the junior party in the coalition. The Socialist dissenters had threatened to vote against the bill, raising fears of a new coalition rift.

Until late last night, Mitsotakis stood his ground, insisting that he had not heard “any convincing counterarguments in favor of the EIEAD,” and calling on all lawmakers to “assume their responsibilities.” But after an eleventh-hour attempt to win round the rebel MPs failed, he withdrew the article. “I should respect the fact that there is not an adequate majority,” he said, adding that the provision would be amended and resubmitted to Parliament for debate.

Earlier this week a parliamentary committee challenged the planned closure of the state bodies, claiming that some aspects of the legislation violate the Constitution. The abolition of a state organization can only be carried out if it has been preceded by a study that redefines the operation of the state after the administrative overhaul, it argued.