Despite a show of confidence by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the EU-Arab World Summit on Thursday regarding the prospect of Greek debt relief before the end of the year, the government appears to be struggling to hold it all together, as it seeks a swift conclusion to the country’s ongoing bailout review, while desperately trying to contain the fallout from its recent TV license debacle, amid the growing disillusionment of an exhausted electorate.
Faced with these unresolved issues, the government’s cohesion has been tested by its apparent inability to form a unified front to reach consensus with parties of the opposition over the convening of the National Broadcasting Council (ESR). Moreover, the government’s apparent indecision over the timing of its much-touted cabinet reshuffle has reportedly also angered several ministers.
This sense of disarray was further highlighted on Thursday by Minister of State Nikos Pappas – a close aide of Tsipras – who appears unable to fall in line with the effort spearheaded by Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis to get an agreement between opposition parties on ESR by Monday.
Speaking to Skai TV, Pappas sought to defend the TV licensing law that was shot down as unconstitutional by the Council of State and raised tensions further by unleashing a new attack against New Democracy.
This tension was palpable later in the day in Parliament where the government’s latest attempt at consensus failed to bear fruit, after a proposed amendment did not secure the support of the political opposition, effectively dampening hopes of an agreement on ESR anytime soon.
In the amendment it submitted, the government sought to suspend rather than abolish a legal provision that had transferred the authority for conducting the TV license auction from ESR to Pappas.
New Democracy and the centrist To Potami party voted against the amendment as they want the provision that put Pappas in charge of the auction abolished.
The discussion of the amendment in Parliament on Thursday was frequently tense with accusations flying.
Voutsis, who is aligned with SYRIZA, said the government took on corruption and vested interests with its auction in a way that previous administrations had not dared.
ND’s Adonis Georgiadis accused the government of trying to “create a council that is controlled by you and to control the broadcasting landscape.” Confusing matters, Voutsis said there should be only three nationwide TV channels, one less than the TV auction had foreseen.