The first meeting Tuesday between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Kyriakos Mitsotakis since the latter took over as New Democracy leader ended with little sign that the two will be able to find much common ground and that the rivalry between their two parties is likely to build.
Although the atmosphere between the two politicians appeared positive while the TV cameras were at the premier’s office in the Maximos Mansion near Syntagma Square in central Athens, it did not take long after the meeting for each side to begin arguing over what had been said behind closed doors.
There is a dispute over the details of what was said but it appears that the issues raised included the ongoing negotiations with Greece’s lenders, the role of the International Monetary Fund in the bailout, public sector appointments and potential changes to the Greek Constitution.
It was clear from the leaks emanating from both camps after the meeting that both wanted to give the impression that Tsipras and Mitsotakis were at odds. However, two possible areas of cooperation emerged: public sector reforms and the constitutional review. The New Democracy leader is said to have left open the possibility of his party backing the government’s proposals or working on a common approach.
After the meeting, a 51-year-old woman was arrested outside the Maximos Mansion for throwing a live chicken into the front yard of the building.
Away from the spotlight SYRIZA and New Democracy were unable to agree Tuesday on the board members of the country’s broadcasting watchdog, the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR).
The SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition was hoping to appoint a new ESR board as the body is due to oversee the launch of a tender process for new broadcasting licenses.
However, New Democracy and other opposition parties rejected the candidates put forward by the coalition. Sources said that the government may now seek to pass new legislation allowing the cabinet to launch the tender.