Despite its effort to appear open to dialogue over the way forward after its TV license law was deemed unconstitutional, the government on Monday showed no signs of seeking consensus after it submitted an amendment to Parliament that essentially suspends the right of Minister of State Nikos Pappas to grant nationwide broadcasting rights, rather than meeting the demand of opposition parties to abolish it altogether.
Article 2 of the so-called Pappas Law stipulated that the authority to conduct an auction for TV licenses would be transferred from the National Broadcasting Council (ESR) to the Ministry of State. But the Council of State rejected it as unconstitutional, insisting that ESR is the only authority that can award TV licenses.
“New Democracy views the government in its entirety with suspicion,” said conservative lawmaker Nikos Dendias, stressing that the amendment submitted by the government refers to a suspension of the article rather than scrapping it. He further demanded a cross-party agreement on a clear provision regarding ESR’s authority, which will be voted in Parliament before the council is convened.
The government’s proposal and the negative reaction to it led to another failed session – the fifth – of House and deputy speakers called by Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis to discuss the matter of convening ESR.
The government’s insistence on backing its proposal for right-wing veteran politician Vyronas Polydoras to head ESR, before eventually backing down to propose another candidate, ESR veteran Rodolfos Moronis, was also a major stumbling block to an agreement in Parliament.
The leftist-led coalition also upped the ante further with New Democracy by rejecting its own TV license proposal in its entirety.
Meanwhile, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed concern earlier on Monday after a meeting with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos over the country’s “economic crisis and the undermining of democratic institutions” – with regard to the government’s TV law and its aggressive reaction to the judiciary after it was rejected – and repeated his call for snap elections.
The only way to get the country back on track is elections, he concluded.