MPs’ discipline a worry for coalition chiefs

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos are in complete agreement about the steps the government needs to take to be ready for the next troika review, which begins on September 9, but there is increasing concern in the ranks of New Democracy and PASOK about the coalition’s five-seat parliamentary majority proving too small.

Kathimerini understands that Samaras and Venizelos have spoken about the need for the government to avoid slackening off during August, when most Greeks take their summer vacation. Samaras hopes that his meeting with US President Barack Obama, scheduled for August 8, will help keep the focus on the reforms demanded by the troika ahead of their return to Greece.

However, party officials are concerned that the amount of legislation which needs to pass through Parliament could lead to a precarious situation for the two-party government, which saw four of its 155 MPs fail to support at least one crucial amendment or bill over the last few days. Concern has been heightened by the fact that Parliament has entered its summer sessions, during which only a third of the 300 MPs sit in the House at any one time. This reduces the government’s majority to just one or two seats, depending on the session.

As a result, New Democracy and PASOK officials have decided to pay closer attention to government MPs they consider possible rebels and to make efforts to ensure that they do not spring any surprises on the coalition during parliamentary votes.

Also, the government submitted a bill on Friday that would allow it to implement public sector reforms by presidential decree rather than bringing legislation to Parliament.

The fragile state of affairs has prompted some ND lawmakers to regret that Samaras did not call elections when the three-party coalition that included Democratic Left (DIMAR) collapsed in June. They believe the conservatives could have strengthened their position in Parliament.

In an interview on Saturday, DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis repeated his belief that Samaras intended to go to the polls. “There was a plan for elections,” he told Efimerida ton Syntakton. “New Democracy believed that, even with two rounds of elections, it could gain power on its own.” Kouvelis said interventions from Greece’s eurozone partners prevented the elections being called.

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