With the domestic political landscape in an increasingly fluid state, Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos did not give up his parliamentary seat on Friday, as he had announced he would do, after Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis asked him to wait until MPs have voted on the NATO accession protocol for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia next week.
The MP, who supported the government in last month’s confidence vote and backed the Prespes deal, said he would follow through next week after the vote on the protocol, which is expected on Thursday. (If he does give up his seat, it would go to the next party MP in terms of votes received in the last elections, in this case Terens Quick, a deputy foreign minister elected with ANEL.)
The decision to postpone the resignation was seen as linked to plans by the government to change parliamentary regulations that would allow the junior coalition partner to retain its parliamentary group despite being at risk of falling below the minimum of five MPs due to departures.
“That whole issue has to be dealt with and then Thanasis can do what he wants,” a parliamentary source said, adding that the changes would “fortify” ANEL and its leader Panos Kammenos.
Kammenos was characteristically belligerent. “ANEL doesn’t want favors from anyone. We want the enforcement of parliamentary regulations,” he wrote on Twitter.
On Monday a parliamentary committee is expected to discuss the planned changes which would allow MPs who entered Parliament on the ticket of one party before switching to another to be counted as part of their current party’s parliamentary group.
Conservative New Democracy referred to “unprecedented” tactics and accused Voutsis of “mediating” between the two former coalition partners. It also condemned reports of plans by the government to propose diaspora Greeks voting for just three MPs in elections, rather than voting toward the final result, saying it violated rights to voting equality.
Separately, SYRIZA MP Theodora Megaloeconomou, who was elected on the Union of Centrists’ ticket, stated she would not run with the leftists in the next elections, saying she might give up her seat.