NEWS

Greek government seeks majority on two fronts

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Politics

With the prospect of snap elections seeming increasingly likely, the government is seeking a majority on two fronts: one to secure backing for the so-called Prespes name deal, assuming it is approved in a referendum in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Sunday, and another in the event that the junior coalition partner quits the government over the deal and conservative New Democracy submits a censure motion.

The first challenge is widely expected to be within the government’s grasp. Apart from the 145 MPs of leftist SYRIZA and the backing of independent MP Katerina Papacosta, who recently joined the cabinet, the government expects some outside support.

Thanasis Papachristopoulos has suggested he will break ranks with the right-wing junior coalition partner, Independent Greeks (ANEL), whose leader Panos Kammenos has said he will reject the deal.

Four MPs of centrist Potami and Thanasis Theoharopoulos of Democratic Alliance have also said they will back the agreement.

Requiring a simple majority of 151, the deal itself seems likely to pass.

What could pose a headache for the government is if Kammenos makes good on his threat to quit the coalition if the deal is brought to the House and ND calls for a vote of no confidence in the administration, lodging a censure motion.

In that case, the government would require 151 negative votes to remain standing. For that to be achieved it would require significant support from independent MPs and smaller parties.

There has been some speculation about centrist Potami replacing ANEL in the coalition but Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis has dismissed it, remarking recently that “if ANEL doesn’t back the Prespes deal there is no government.”

According to sources, there is a “second majority” – different in composition from the one officials expect for the Prespes deal – which could help prolong the government’s stay in power.

The sources suggest certain MPs who will vote down the name deal will not follow ND’s line in the event of a censure motion.

ANEL MP Costas Zouraris, for instance, has said he will not support the name deal but will not join efforts to bring down the government.

There are question marks over Spyros Danellis and Spyros Lykoudis of Potami. And the MPs of the Union of Centrists are another wild card.

Online