With the alleged Novartis bribery scandal falling apart and failing to deal a blow to its political opponents, the government has reportedly found itself on the back foot almost a month before European and local elections.
The crumbling of the alleged scandal implicating the Swiss pharmaceutical giant and prominent Greek politicians has punctured ruling SYRZA’s narrative of “the biggest scandal since the establishment of the Greek state,” and essentially dashed hopes it would help it bridge the gap with opposition New Democracy in opinion polls.
The issue has also stoked discord within ruling SYRIZA, given that many high ranking party officials, such as Finance Ministry Euclid Tsakalotos, had from the outset steered clear of the government’s decision to bank on scandal mongering to fight its political opponents.
However, instead of dropping the issue, the government has sought to latch onto comments last week by former PASOK minister Evangelos Venizelos, whereby the next Parliament would not support SYRIZA’s proposals for constitutional review – apparently referring to suggested changes to Article 86 concerning the prosecution of ministers.
The government described the comments by Venizelos, one of 10 politicians originally implicated in the alleged scandal, as part of a “a plot by ND and Movement for Change to cover up the Novartis scandal.”
The case against Venizelos has been shelved, along with most of those named. Former health minister Andreas Loverdos is the only one currently implicated and Parliament is to vote next Friday on whether to lift his immunity.