Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ assurances that elections will be held at the end of the government’s four-year term, as well as the overt pre-election undertones in all of the political leaders’ statements, characterized Wednesday’s parliamentary session, which, despite its focus on social policy, evolved into a full-fledged confrontation between the ruling party and the opposition.
“I have proclaimed many, many times that elections will be held at the end of the four-year term, despite the fact that many rumors may be circulating,” Mitsotakis said, noting his concern “that we will continue for several more months in a climate of intense toxicity.” He stressed: “Things may indeed get very bad in the coming months. We may find ourselves in situations, especially in the gas market, which are unprecedented.”
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras reiterated his call for early elections while describing the administration as dangerous. “The dilemma of the ballot box will be very simple: political change and the nightmare over or nightmare without end,” he noted, adding that the PM is a “factor of instability.”
Mitsotakis responded that the dilemma of the next election is who can best handle the multiple crises and keep a firm grip on the helm of the country “as we will have to navigate uncharted waters.” He also reiterated his plan to terminate a so-called solidarity tax on incomes as of 2023 and allow for pension increases, frozen for the past 12 years as part of stringent fiscal rules imposed by the country’s creditors during its debt crisis.
“It is a double resounding signal that the country’s growth must benefit everyone without putting fiscal balance and the Greek economy’s competitiveness at risk,” the prime minister said during the debate he called to present his government’s work on social issues. He said that pensions “will be placed on a course of regular and permanent increases” as of next year and that the abolition of the solidarity tax will apply to everyone.
Mitsotakis had initially pledged the abolition of the levy for one year (2021) in September 2020, as part of a tax relief package to boost jobs amidst a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but the plan was postponed as the economy took a downturn.
He went on to say the government’s top priority is a speedy recovery of the national economy, with lots of investments leading to better wages and many new jobs.