NEWS

Government on the ropes ahead of polls

COSTIS P. PAPADIOCHOS

TAGS: Politics

This week’s damning report compiled by prosecutors about last summer’s deadly fires in the resort of Mati in eastern Attica has placed the government on the back foot in view of European and local elections in May, and possibly the national election too.

While the ruling SYRIZA party has been at pains to push its narrative that Greece has returned to normalcy under its stewardship, the probe into the fire that killed 100 people highlighted the responsibilities of government officials and the staggering failures of state mechanisms due to incompetence and negligence.

To make matters even worse for the ruling leftist party, the report also blamed leading SYRIZA member and Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou for the state’s shambolic reaction, seriously compromising her chances of winning a second term in local elections.

A defeat for Dourou will spell more misery for SYRIZA as it stands to lose control of the country’s largest prefecture.

Furthermore polls suggest that SYRIZA may lose in all other regional governor races around the country, apart from those of Western Greece and Crete, where the leftist party is supporting PASOK-backed candidates.

But SYRIZA’s woes don’t stop with the Mati report, as the debate on the constitutional review – which will be voted on this Thursday – is also expected to pile on more pressure as the party’s proposal with regard to the election of Greece’s president has already been shot down.

At the same time, the bridges it has tried to build with prominent members of center-left parties To Potami and the Movement for Change (KINAL), to form a progressive front against the conservatives, have not done much to change the political balance of power in Parliament. If anything, the government’s efforts have rallied KINAL’s party base, according to recent polls.

Furthermore, the probe into the Novartis affair, with which SYRIZA had hoped to deliver a knockout punch to New Democracy, appears to have failed to find any evidence of illicit payments made by the Swiss firm into the accounts of conservative politicians implicated, including two former prime ministers.

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