Political scene in flux, as PM meets cabinet without coalition partner


The absence from Μonday’s cabinet meeting of Panos Kammenos, leader of the junior coalition party, Independent Greeks (ANEL), has further fueled speculation of imminent changes to the political balance.

Before Monday’s cabinet meeting, Kammenos, who is also defense minister, had warned on Sunday that his party could leave the coalition, “when the time comes” over its opposition to the name deal signed between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Since the deal between Athens and Skopje, the ruling coalition’s parliamentary majority in the 300-seat House has shrunk to 152 following the departure of two ANEL lawmakers.

The political uncertainty was also highlighted later on Sunday, when To Potami announced it was dropping out of Movement for Change (KINAL) – a political alliance of center-left parties.

The news of To Potami’s departure has sparked talk that both ruling SYRIZA and main opposition New Democracy – each for its own reasons – could explore the possibility of cooperation with the centrist party whose chances of surviving on its own without forging an alliance with another political grouping are considered slim at best.

Tellingly, To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis told Kathimerini that his party will aim to find common ground with the “next winner of the elections.” And with fears that more ANEL lawmakers may jump ship over the name deal, SYRIZA, in particular, is expected to scramble to lure other MPs – independents and from To Potami – to join its parliamentary group.

ND may sweep for the more centrist and liberal MPs of To Potami. This would also counteract accusations hurled by the government against ND that it has moved too far to the right.

During the cabinet meeting, Tsipras accused New Democracy of being “far-right” and of being more like Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Tsipras also hailed the June 21 Eurogroup deal for Greece as “historic” and said that the country will have a clean exit from the memorandums, without new prior actions and without the supervision of creditors in exchange for financing, adding that the deal also made Greece’s debt sustainable.

Moreover, he pledged to restore collective labor bargaining, increase the minimum wage and introduce targeted tax breaks. However, he made no reference to the scheduled pension cuts in January 2019 and the lowering of the income tax threshold.