House speaker ups attacks on PM, president

House speaker ups attacks on PM, president

A brewing row between Parliament Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou and the government peaked over the weekend as the former redoubled her verbal attacks against both Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, prompting a terse reaction from the offices of both.

A day after expressing strong objections to the procedure followed by Pavlopoulos in handing exploratory mandates to the conservative opposition following Tsipras’s resignation, Constantopoulou struck again on Saturday, accusing Tsipras and the president of treating Greece’s institutions as “their fiefdom and property."

Constantopoulou hit out at Tsipras for calling elections “on the sly,” claiming that only Greece’s creditors had been briefed about the plan. She also slammed Pavlopoulos for not informing her before launching the process of issuing exploratory mandates to party leaders.

The Constitution dictates that the president informs the parliamentary speaker on the composition of the House before issuing exploratory mandates, she said.

Pavlopoulos did not respond publicly to Constantopoulou on Saturday but his office issued a terse statement.

“As of yesterday, the presidency is no longer paying attention to Mrs Constantopoulou,” it said.

On Friday, sources in Pavlopoulos’s office had countered accusations of an “institutional faux pas” by declaring that the president had “honored the Constitution to the letter.”

Later on Saturday, Tsipras’s office also issued a curt note, indicating that the premier regretted appointing Constantopoulou to Parliament’s top role.

“The parliamentary speaker is acting like a dictator,” it said. “She thinks she’s at the institutional center of democracy when she’s just a wrong choice.”

Although not an official statement by Tsipras, it was one of the strongest rebukes yet to Constantopoulou, who has used her power to delay and obstruct parliamentary debates and votes on reforms pledged to creditors and on Greece’s third bailout.

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