NEWS

Gov't seeks to divert debate, polish PM's image

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (c) visited Santorini General Hospital on Friday

As Athens braces for a new round of negotiations with international creditors over the country’s second bailout review, on the domestic front the government is seeking to divert the public debate away from the mistakes committed over the last 18 months to its future plans and the positive aspects of its term in office – which, it says, includes its plans to review the Constitution and the electoral law.

However, as it now appears highly unlikely that the leftist-led coalition will muster the 200 parliamentary votes needed to pass its much-touted electoral reform legislation on Wednesday, aides now appear to be focused on boosting the image of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – once a trump card for the coalition – whose approval ratings have dropped below opposition conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has initiated a campaign to expose the PM as an unfit leader who is on his way out.

“This complete divorce with reality is the last stage before the permanent exit from the PM’s residence,” Mitsotakis said, referring to an interview Tsipras gave on Skai TV on Thursday night, adding that he “not for a moment felt the need to apologize” for the imposition of capital controls or for a recently revealed plan (Plan X) to take Greece out of the eurozone at the height of last summer’s negotiations with creditors.

“He does not intend to change the way he does politics or his policies,” the New Democracy leader said.

Speaking at an event to discuss Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, Mitsotakis also took a swipe at Tsipras for blaming the Bank of Greece for the imposition of the capital controls, saying it was another “exercise in cheap SYRIZA propaganda,” as was the PM’s citing of last year’s referendum as a highlight of his term in office, he added.

Referring to the referendum as a “fiasco and an institutional parody,” Mitsotakis said it was “audacious” to refer to it as a highlight.

With Parliament scheduled on July 26 to discuss New Democracy’s request for a committee to investigate what led to the imposition of capital controls and the so-called Plan X, government aides expect the conservatives to continue what the former describe as the latter’s efforts to “deconstruct” Tsipras.

“It is now clear that [the conservatives] have embarked on a campaign to deconstruct Tsipras,” aides say.

In response, Tsipras is expected to make more public appearances to extol the government’s positive work, as was the case with his appearance at Friday’s launch of a new hospital in Santorini.

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