Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis clashed in Parliament on Wednesday during the launch of a debate on education which spanned a range of topics, including corruption, which the two leaders agreed to debate in a separate session.
At the outset, Tsipras condemned Mitsotakis for his stance on economic policy and lack of support for the government’s negotiations with Greece’s creditors.
Mitsotakis retorted that Tsipras must defend himself “on matters of corruption and graft” and challenged the premier to a debate on the issue. Tsipras said he would ask the House speaker to set up a discussion as soon as possible.
On the issue of education, as on all other matters broached, the two leaders showed no appetite for consensus.
Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of defending the rights of “the elite few” rather than equal opportunities for all.
The ND leader said the government’s policies would stop bright but disadvantaged children from getting ahead.
Tsipras also sought to appease a dispute between the Church of Greece and Education Minister Nikos Filis on religion classes in schools, which the government wants to make more like religious studies rather than being taught on the basis of catechism.
Tsipras said the new religion classes will be tested for a year and then reviewed. “There is a need for constructive dialogue and not conflicts at such a critical time for the country.”