Greek coalition chasm deepening

Greek coalition chasm deepening

With a vote on the Prespes name deal looming, tensions continued to rise between the leftist SYRIZA party of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who backed the agreement, and coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), whose leader Panos Kammenos opposes it, with the two men set to meet on Friday. Meanwhile, both camps are said to be planning for the eventuality of a government breakup.

Ahead of his planned talks with Tsipras, Kammenos is to meet his MPs on Wednesday morning. The session is expected to be tense as some MPs have said they might support the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), breaking with Kammenos who has said he will vote it down.

Tsipras had been expected to meet with Kammenos on Tuesday in a bid to defuse tensions but in the end a meeting was set for Friday.

The premier is to give an interview to Open television channel on Wednesday night. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, it was postponed for Wednesday, apparently to allow the PM to factor in the outcome of Kammenos’s meeting with his MPs. Kammenos too had been planning a separate television interview for Wednesday though rumors on Tuesday night suggested he would call it off. 

Meanwhile, government officials are performing a difficult balancing act: trying to secure the support of ANEL MPs for the name deal without alienating the junior coalition partner. For its part, centrist Potami said it would back the name deal but would not support the government in the event of a censure motion.

As debate intensifies about how a government breakup should be handled, both camps are said to be plotting their next moves.

Smaller parties are gauging the prospect of cooperation with SYRIZA. The so-called Movement for the Convergence of the Center-Left is organizing an event in Athens on Sunday which, sources suggest, Tsipras might address.

The government insists it will have a majority if Kammenos leaves but rejects conservative New Democracy’s call for a vote of confidence, challenging it to lodge a censure motion.

ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is to address ND’s political committee Wednesday, stressing that the government is “damaging” for the country.

FYROM’s parliament is expected to hold its final vote on the deal on Wednesday, paving the way for the Greek vote in the coming days.

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