New Democracy denied on Saturday that it failed to vote in favor of an amendment tabled by coalition MPs that grants citizenship to the descendants of Greek Jews who did not return to Greece after World War II.
The conservatives were recorded as voting “present,” equivalent to abstaining, during last week’s ballot, prompting a rebuke from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. But the opposition party said it had clearly shown it was in favor for the amendment.
“Parliament’s decision to grant citizenship to the descendants of Greek Jews who were victims of the Holocaust puts right a historic responsibility,” said Tsipras. “This decision carries strong symbolism at a time when the far-right is on the rise in Europe. Nobody is surprised that Golden Dawn voted against it but New Democracy should be ashamed of its hypocritical stance.”
The conservatives issued a statement accusing the government of propaganda and arguing that SYRIZA’s coalition partner, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, had made anti-semitic comments in the past. New Democracy also insisted that during the debate on the amendment, its parliamentary representative, Yiannis Kefaloyiannis, had indicated the party’s support for the amendment but that its position was recorded incorrectly.
The conservatives also pointed out that they voted in favor of the last legislative alteration on this issue, a law passed under the PASOK government in 2011, which gave citizenship rights to all Greek Jews born in 1945 or before.