Tense debate to continue ahead of confidence vote

Tense debate to continue ahead of confidence vote

Tensions in Parliament are expected to peak Friday ahead of a vote of confidence in the government, as political leaders continue with a fierce debate that has set the tone for elections.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is all but certain to win the vote, as with the last one in January, and will likely use his appearance in Parliament to defend new handouts that he announced earlier this week and have since fueled concerns among Greece’s international creditors.

He is also expected to have a fresh clash with conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with whom he sparred fiercely on Wednesday.

Commenting Thursday, Mitsotakis said he had tried to keep the political dialogue “on the substance,” suggesting that the premier had made it personal.

“When someone starts a fight, the other person sometimes finds themselves in the difficult position of having to answer or avoiding an answer,” Mitsotakis said. “I chose to answer.”

The debate in Parliament was relatively tame Thursday, compared to Wednesday’s fireworks, though Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis made an appearance.

ND had lodged a censure motion against Polakis for accusing Stelios Kymbouropoulos, a wheelchair-bound conservative candidate for MEP, of exploiting affirmative action laws to secure a state job.

The government reacted by calling a confidence vote in an apparent bid to avoid making the outspoken minister the focus of a debate in the countdown to elections, particularly as several MPs in leftist SYRIZA object to his behavior.

Polakis claimed to have treated Kymbouropoulos as “an equal political interlocutor,” while accusing Mitsotakis of losing influence over MPs and supporters.

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