Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s talk of consensus in his opening speech during the parliamentary debate on the constitutional review quickly fell by the wayside on Wednesday, giving way to polarizing rhetoric and acrimonious exchanges.
The first sparks flew after references by Tsipras and junior coalition partner leader Panos Kammenos to alleged corruption scandals involving opposition parties.
Tension was further stoked after the SYRIZA leader rejected New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s proposal that the next Parliament should decide on the content of the articles that are subject to the revision.
Tsipras wants the current Parliament to not only decide which articles will be subject to revision but also to bind the next Parliament to the content of these revisions.
For his part, Mitsotakis vowed to thwart the ambitions of the SYRIZA-led government using all means afforded by the law and the Constitution.
“We feel a responsibility to future generations to prevent a whittled-down constitutional review initiative,” he said.
Tsipras responded that constitutional experts have vindicated his aim to bind the next Parliament over the content of the articles that will be revised.
Mitsotakis attributed Tsipras’s stance to the realization that his party will no longer have a parliamentary majority after the next elections.
Moreover, the conservative leader claimed that Tsipras is not interested in an essential review of the Constitution but rather in distracting public opinion and debate from “grim reality” and “government scandals.”
Dismissing Tsipras’s attempt to overhaul the Constitution as “activism,” Mitsotakis declared that “ND will not allow you to put SYRIZA’s stamp on this procedure.”
Tsipras also said that changing the “shameful” law granting ministers immunity from prosecution would be one of his priorities.
On the tentative Church-state deal, Tsipras stressed that it was “a proposal for an agreement,” adding that “the time has come to establish the religious neutrality of the Greek state.”