Legislation on private education, the television license tender and the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) are the three issues that in the coming days will top the agenda of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is banking on their successful outcome to offset lagging poll numbers and the expected outcry over tax hikes and spending cuts this fall.
In view of this, Tsipras will meet with Education Minister Nikos Filis on Saturday to discuss details about the new bill on private education, which the leftist-led government hopes will give it a moral edge over opposition New Democracy when its debated in Parliament.
“This is an issue on our social agenda which is of utmost importance to us,” government aides said Friday, adding that the central aim is to highlight the ideological differences with the conservative opposition when it comes to social issues like education.
At the same time, the Education Ministry is in a race against time to secure that the school year begins without shortages for the first time in years, which, the government believes, will earn it plaudits for successfully tackling a problem that has festered for so long.
Tsipras is also reportedly in daily contact with Minister of State Nikos Pappas, who is supervising the contentious TV license tender that will reduce the number of broadcasters in Greece to just four.
Tsipras is adamant that it must proceed without any further glitches and erase any suspicions that the tender is being held to promote channels that are more to the government’s liking and to manipulate the media.
Meanwhile, the Council of State on Friday rejected nine requests for the temporary suspension of the tender.
The president of the country’s highest administrative court, Nikos Sakellariou, refused to order the suspension of the tender process – which is expected to start next week – pending rulings by the same court on the legality of the procedure and on whether some of the bidders meet the criteria for participation.
The nine requests were filed by seven companies that have been selected for the TV license competition.
However, several officials have reportedly expressed concern over the criteria set to award the licenses, saying that the government has focused its attention on the highest bidder at the expense of others.
Moreover, concerns remain over the government’s cohesion given the public condemnation of one of candidate TV station owners by the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos.
The government will also be busy preparing for the Thessaloniki trade fair, where Tsipras plans to announce handouts, albeit limited ones, to people hardest hit by the country’s protracted financial crisis.