Revelations that a candidate with ruling SYRIZA for the upcoming European Parliament elections has been convicted of defrauding the state fueled a political storm and public outcry on Friday, prompting the woman to pull out of the race.
Having repeatedly claimed the moral high ground over more established political parties, members of the leftist government were cautious when the story broke, in the Fileleftheros and Proto Thema newspapers.
According to the reports, Myrsini Loizou was handed a two-year suspended sentence in February 2017 for cashing the pension of her deceased mother over more than five years, costing the state more than 50,000 euros.
Commenting early on Friday morning, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said he was “sure” Loizou had not taken the money. Later in the day, however, the would-be MEP issued a statement, admitting that she had received her dead mother’s pension but attributing this to “bureaucratic procedures” and insisting it was not her mistake. As for her debts to the state of 180,000 euros, for which she faces trial in May, Loizou said it would be paid by her ex-husband with whom she had a joint business.
The 53-year-old, who is the daughter of late singer-songwriter Manos Loizos and writer Maro Loizou, accused the media of sensationalism.
Her decision to drop out the race for a seat in the European Parliament on the SYRIZA ticket came after calls for her resignation by the political opposition, with conservative New Democracy describing the affair as “inconceivable,” while the centrist Movement for Change said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s choices of candidate raised questions about his values.