NEWS

SYRIZA plunged into turmoil over Polakis remarks

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU

TAGS: Politics

The disparaging comments made by Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis about a conservative candidate in next month’s European elections continued to make waves on Wednesday within the government, not least within his own ministry.

Speaking to state-run TV on Wednesday, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos described his second-in-command’s remarks as “obviously unfortunate,” adding that they clearly damaged the government and boosted opposition New Democracy.

He also expressed regret that Polakis made his comment “at a time when the conservatives appeared cornered regarding crucial issues on the social agenda.”

“It gave [ND] the chance to counterattack,” he said, referring to the censure motion that ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he will submit after the Easter break in order to “change the political climate.”

Polakis had accused wheelchair-bound Stelios Kymbouropoulos of exploiting equal opportunity laws to secure his appointment as a physician with the National Health System.

According to sources, Xanthos is not the only SYRIZA lawmaker to have expressed disapproval about the demeanor of Polakis, who is increasingly being viewed as a “burden” on the governing party.

Sources also lamented the fact that his controversial remarks were made on the same day that the “SYRIZA – Progressive Alliance” ticket, which includes two disabled candidates, was presented ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections.

For his part, Polakis kept the issue alive on Wednesday by posting two photos on Facebook – one of them depicting a neoliberal interpretation of equal rights for the disabled while the other showed how the Left perceives the notion of the welfare state.

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