Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is planning to pursue the separation of the Greek state from the Church ahead of an upcoming a review of the Constitution and as part of a broader bid to push opposition New Democracy further right on the political spectrum and gain some of the middle ground, Kathimerini understands.
According to sources, Tsipras will start setting out his plan for constitutional revision – including the Church-state intervention – over the next month, ahead of the anticipated submission to Parliament of leftist SYRIZA’s proposal for the review in October.
The same sources indicate that Tsipras and his advisers are aware that the initiative will likely prompt vehement reactions from the Church of Greece. However, there is a general sense that these reactions will be manageable, as was the case with the Church’s reservations ahead of the Macedonia name deal, as the government has forged “functional” ties with senior representatives of the Church.
Constitutional revision, along with the deal reached between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to change the latter’s name, are shaping up to be two basic points of conflict between leftist SYRIZA and ND ahead of European Parliament elections in the spring of next year and amid speculation that general elections planned for next fall could come earlier.
Indeed, it appears that Tsipras is aiming to score political points against his rival, ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has spoken out against the separation of Church and state in Greece.
The initiative will be presented as a “progressive” one and, as such, the premier is hoping to get the centrist Movement for Change on his side or force it to adopt the stance of ND and risk being branded as reactionary.
Mitsotakis has yet to decide what stance to take opposite Tsipras’s plans for constitutional review, Kathimerini understands.
He will either reject dialogue with the government or may back certain articles of the proposed review of the current administration with the aim of tweaking them under an ND government.