ECONOMY

Parliament approves 2022 budget

parliament-approves-2022-budget

The Parliament approved Greece’s 2022 budget 158-142 Saturday, with only the ruling conservative New Democracy party voting for the budget as a whole.

The socialist Movement for Change and the right-wing populist Greek Solution voted for the defense spending part of the budget.

The Parliamentary debate was extremely polarized, recalling the days of the early financial crisis, in the 2010s.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras dared Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whom he called “morally bankrupt” to resign and call an early election more than a year and a half before the end of Parliament’s term. But he went beyond that: in a language that evoked memories of the one used by former US President Donald Trump to his supporters, he said: “I call on the Greeks to resist the politics of arrogance, corruption and decay you represent. I call on the Greeks to demand that the government of the guilty leave. I call on the Greeks to impose their constitutional right to decide for themselves about their own tomorrow,” the Syriza leader said.

Without saying so explicitly, Tsipras was invoking Article 120 of the Constitution, which refers to the right of the Greek people to resist tyranny “by all means.”

Mitsotakis seized the opportunity to parallel Tsipras’ rhetoric to that of the “Guardians of the Constitution,” the anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists who have threatened officials and recently abducted a school principal to protest mandatory vaccination for pupils.

Mitsotakis ruled out the possibility of early elections, mocking Tsipras, whose party consistently trails New Democracy by double digits in opinion polls that he had “the most to lose” from an early election. He also said that Tsipras’ abrasive speech was motivated by the recent rise in polls of the Movement of Change, which has just elected a new leader.

Michalis Katrinis, the Movement for Change’s parliamentary group leader, in a speech criticizing the budget said that his party “does not do opposition with screams and extreme behavior.”

Syriza MPs interrupted and insulted Minister of State Giorgos Gerapetritis, who initially undertook to respond to Tsipras. They then left the chamber, with Tsipras telling Gerapetritis that he, as an MP elected on an at-large list, could not expect the leader of the opposition listen to him. “There are no two-tier MPs,” Gerapetritis retorted.

At the end of the debate, the Parliament Speaker noted that, during the 5-day budget debate, which lasted over 61 hours, 225 MPs and 36 ministers spoke.