Gov’t braces for a long hot summer

Fierce political battles in store over next two months as reform bills head to Parliament

Gov’t braces for a long hot summer

Picking up where he left off due to the pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reportedly determined to bring his reform agenda to the forefront in the next two months, with the submission to Parliament of emblematic bills that he had announced in the run-up to the 2019 elections. The process, however, is expected to be met with fierce political confrontation from the opposition parties.

The start was made Friday with the submission of a key labor reform bill, which is expected to be introduced to the relevant parliamentary committees next week and debated on the week after that.

Not only has the government not backed down from its passionate support for the bill in the face of fierce reactions, it has doubled down by going on the counteroffensive, highlighting what it describes as a conflict between two different perceptions.

According to a government source that spoke to Kathimerini, these contrasting perceptions are that of leftist SYRIZA, which wants nothing to change, and that of the center-right government, whose initiatives aim to modernize essential frameworks like that of labor, which has been in force since the 1980s.

However, much acrimony is expected as of next week and until the labor bill is voted, with protest marches and reports that SYRIZA plans to file a motion of censure against Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.

After the labor reforms are voted on by June 18, two more major bills are next in line, on supplementary insurance for young people and education. The insurance bill will be presented at the next cabinet meeting in late June. Its aim is to create a “piggy bank” for each new insured person after January 1, 2022 in order to ensure a higher supplementary pension. 

The bill will also include the operation of a capitalization pillar to effectively deal with the aging of the population and to secure the existing supplementary and main pensions. The bill will be put to public consultation soon and come to Parliament by mid-July at the earliest and August 6 at the latest.

The Education Ministry reform bill is expected to come to Parliament in late July. Among other changes it seeks to introduce is the evaluation of teachers, which is fiercely opposed by SYRIZA and expected to bring yet more political acrimony.

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