The coalition attempted on Friday to draw a line under the Lagarde list affair, pending a parliamentary probe, after a tempestuous day in Parliament led to MPs voting for ex-Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou to be investigated and not his successor, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
“Yesterday represents a watershed,” said Venizelos, who was involved in some angry exchanges with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday. “Not just because SYRIZA’s scheming was exposed… but mainly because public life has been relieved of the noose that they they have tried to put on it at the expense of the truth, stability and the country’s prospects.”
Venizelos accused SYRIZA during the debate of trying to implicate him in wrongdoing in connection to the Lagarde list of depositors with the aim of eroding faith in the coalition government.
The leftists said the PASOK leader should face dereliction of duty charges with regard to his failure to ensure that the list, containing the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with accounts at the Geneva branch of HSBC, was investigated for tax evaders when he was finance minister.
After much bickering over the voting procedure, MPs cast their ballots at around midnight on Thursday and voted for just Papaconstantinou to be probed by a parliamentary committee that will advise the House on whether the ex-minister should have his immunity from prosecution lifted.
A total of 265 of 300 lawmakers voted in favor of Papaconstantinou being probed. Only 124 voted for Venizelos – less than the total of opposition MPs, which amounts to 136. Eighty lawmakers cast ballots for ex-Prime Minister George Papandreou and 63 for former Premier Lucas Papademos.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was absent from the debate and only made an appearance to cast his ballot. Sources close to the premier said that he now hopes that Thursday’s vote will lead to speculation about members of the coalition government becoming embroiled in the Lagarde list affair ending. Samaras is also said to believe that the process exposed SYRIZA as being out to make short-term political gains.
The leftists, however, continued their attacks on Venizelos. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis called him a “big liar” for suggesting that the leftists had leaked stories about Venizelos’s relatives being on the Lagarde list.
The opposition party also called for the PASOK leader to be investigated over his claim that he still has in his possession national defense plans from when he was defense minister.