PM, opposition chief set for showdown ahead of no-confidence vote

PM, opposition chief set for showdown ahead of no-confidence vote

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is heading for a showdown with main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras in Parliament ahead of a no-confidence vote in the government over the country’s wiretap scandal Friday. 

Tsipras has accused the conservative leader of “masterminding” the wiretapping carried out by the national intelligence service (EYP), after revealing that a minister and five top defense officials had been under state surveillance. Mitsotakis has denied the allegations.

The vote will cap three days of often tense debate, with rival politicians occasionally trading malicious barbs and allegations.

Analysts say Mitsotakis will seek to shift the agenda away from the allegedly “toxic” polarization cultivated by the opposition and instead project his government’s positive record in the economy, foreign policy and other areas. 

Tsipras is, on the other hand, expected to pressure the prime minister over the recent report into the scandal by ADAE, Greece’s independent authority for communications and privacy which recently carried out an audit at the country’s telecoms operations. According to the SYRIZA leader, the report confirms that among the individuals placed under surveillance were the government’s own labor minister, the head of the National Defense General Staff, the former head of the army, a former national security adviser, and the former and current heads of defense armaments. 

Tsipras is expected to argue that either the prime minister, who brought EYP under his direct control when he took office three years ago, knew of the wiretaps and is being untruthful or he did not know of the wiretaps and is therefore incompetent. The idea is that in either case, Mitsotakis should resign. 

The conservatives, who control 156 of the 300 seats in the House, are expected to defeat the motion.

The scandal has dented the image of the ruling party which has nevertheless maintained a solid lead in opinion polls ahead of what is expected to be a double election later this year. An MRP poll released late Thursday showed New Democracy leading SYRIZA by almost six points.

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