ND won’t engage in ‘10-ballot circus’ over Novartis affair
Opposition New Democracy on Tuesday said that while it will support a motion for a preliminary parliamentary inquiry into a prosecutor’s allegations that two former prime ministers and eight ministers may have been bribed by a big pharmaceutical firm, it will not play into the leftist-led administration’s “public relations stunts.”
The conservative opposition dismissed ahead of Wednesday’s contentious Parliamentary debate a proposal by House speaker Nikos Voutsis to set up 10 separate ballots representing the politicians in question so that MPs can decide whether all or some need to have their protection from prosecution lifted so they can be investigated in relation to the allegations, which are based on the testimony of three unnamed witnesses.
New Democracy described the proposed vote as a “pretext” intended to cast aspersions on politicians opposed to the government and its leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that he will not engage in a “10-ballot circus.”
Speaking on Skai TV on Tuesday morning, party spokesman Costis Hadzidakis did not rule out the possibility of New Democracy walking out of the vote if ruling SYRIZA insists on Voutsi’s proposal.
Socialist PASOK and centrist To Potami, meanwhile, have presented a united front on the issue, saying that while there is clearly a case worthy of investigation in allegations that Swiss drugs firm Novartis paid millions of euros in bribes to Greek officials to fix prices and receive preferential treatment, the government is attempting to turn the issue into “a mud-slinging machine against its political opponents.”
The debate is expected to start in Parliament at 9 a.m. on Wednesday with the vote on how to proceed slated for 10 p.m. If Parliament approves the proposal that politicians be probed, it is considered likely that an investigation will last a few weeks, with witnesses summoned to testify in connection with each politician.
Then, once the committee presents its findings, either another vote will be held to indict one or some of the politicians or the case file will be returned to the judiciary who are already attempting to trace the trail of the alleged kickbacks paid to politicians.