Political tensions intensified on Friday after Parliament Speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas rejected a complaint by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras over the exemption of leftist MPs Pavlos Polakis and Dimitris Tzanakopoulos from a House committee probing alleged meddling by former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos in the Novartis investigation.
In a letter to Tsipras, Tasoulas rejected the former premier’s demand that he restore “parliamentary order” by reinstating the two leftist MPS, declaring that the decision to remove them had been in keeping with the “legal framework” of the committee which, he said, “although comprised of MPs, functions as a judicial organ, not a political one, that is independently.”
Tasoulas was responding to a letter from Tsipras, describing the exemption of the two MPs’ ejection from the panel as “illegal” and a “brute deprivation of their parliamentary rights.”
Tsipras’ intervention came after the committee opted to eject Tzanakopoulos and Polakis due to their status as witnesses in the investigation, which was deemed to be a potential conflict of interests.
Later Friday, Tasoulas sent Tsipras a second letter, asking him to appoint two MPs to replace Polakis and Tzanakopoulos on the panel.
Reacting, leftist SYRIZA accused Tasoulas of bias, condemning him for “choosing to align with the clearly illegal decision of the majority of the committee which violates the Constitution and Parliament.”
“SYRIZA will not be complicit in illegal tactics that violate Parliament and institutions but will remain focused on observing legality,” the leftist party said.
What the party did not clarify, however, is whether it will insist on Polakis and Tzanakopoulos joining the sessions of the committee, which is to convene again next week.
Earlier this week, the two SYRIZA MPs, both former ministers, said they intended to attend the committee sessions despite the decision to exclude them.
Tasoulas said he did not view their comments as a “threat” but an “erroneous, antiquated tactic that has no place in Greece’s Parliament and which Parliament cannot allow.”