NEWS

Tsipras mulls taking independent MPs into SYRIZA fold

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is seriously thinking about accepting into the SYRIZA Parliamentary group those independent deputies who have been helping his government pass important legislation, after former partner Panos Kammenos and his Independent Greeks party bolted the coalition.

SYRIZA, with 145 of 300 deputies in its parliamentary group, is now a minority government and must find ad hoc majorities for every upcoming piece of legislation, although a certain core of independents now appear to be reliable allies. Taking them into the parliamentary group would impose the same obligation of party discipline and, if enough join, recreate a majority government that doesn't have to negotiate each time with smaller parties or free-range deputies. It would also ensure SYRIZA a majority in parliamentary committees.

The most obvious candidates to join SYRIZA's parliamentary group are the three officeholders: Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, Deputy Agriculture Minister Vassilis Kokkalis and Deputy Citizen's Protection Minister Katerina Papakosta. Kountoura and Kokkalis recently opted to leave Kammenos's party rather than their portfolios and Papakosta had long bolted opposition New Democracy to create her own party before agreeing to join the government.

Those three, along with Spyros Danellis, formerly a member of centrist Potami party, and Athanassios Papachristopouolos, still nominally an Independent Greek who has promised to resign his seat, all voted Wednesday for a hotly contested bill modifying the system of public sector hirings. Kostas Zouraris, also an Independent Greek with an independent streak, did not attend the vote, but has declared he would be loath to bring down a left-wing government. Union of Centrists deputy Ioannis Saridis, who did not vote with the government on the Prespes Agreement, voted “present” on the bill and for a specific article.

Another quartet, Potami lawmakers Stavros Theodorakis, the party leader, George Mavrotas and Spyros Likoudis may have voted for the Prespes deal but are considered as less likely to join SYRIZA's. This is also the case of Thanassis Theocharopoulos, president of the small Democratic Left party whose positive vote on the Prespes Deal resulted in his being kicked out of the alliance with the socialists.