NEWS

PM writes to House Speaker, asking that he not change Parl’t regulations

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday wrote to Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis, asking him to make no changes to House regulations relating to composition of parties after being accused by the political opposition of trying to save former coalition partner, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos.

In a letter to Voutsis, released by the premier's office, Tsipras asked Voutsis not to change "even a punctuation mark" in Parliament's regulations following claims by conservative New Democracy that Voutsis was mediating to secure the parliamentary group of ANEL on behalf of Tsipras.

"I have never been coerced by anyone ever, and as I do not want to allow anyone to exploit my democratic sensitivities in order to slander me, I ask you to take no initiative to change the existing regulations, not even a punctuation mark," Tsipras wrote in the letter.

Noting that he had expressed his “concern” to Voutsis last week over the “lack of logic” behind regulations that deprive parties of the lack to have a parliamentary group in Parliament if their MPs drop below the minimum number following the migration of lawmakers to other parties, Tsipras said Voutsis had proposed discussing the issue with party representatives.

However, following the reaction the main political opposition, and certain media groups, which, Tsipras said, had sought to portray him as acting under coercion, he had asked Voutsis to make no changes.

Any "ambiguities" in existing regulations should be put before Parliament’s committee of experts, Tsipras concluded.

A parliamentary committee was to convene at 2 p.m. on Monday to discuss regulations relating to parliamentary groups.

In comments ahead of the session, Voutsis insisted that the aim was to boost parties, not to change the regulations.

Kathimerini understands that the government had two aims: appeasing Kammenos and securing its majority in Parliament to the greatest possible extent.

The government had been angling for a solution that would ensure Kammenos does not lose the right of a party leader to address Parliament, for fear that he would scale up attacks against Tsipras.

Another regulation the administration had been keen to amend is the one dictating that the minimum of five MPs in any parliamentary group must all have entered Parliament with the party in question.

This would secure the position of ANEL MP – Aristeidis Fokas – entered Parliament with the Union of Centrists before moving to ANEL.

Conservative New Democracy had not ruled out the possibility of bringing a censure motion against Voutsis if he changed House regulations to protect ANEL.