Par­lia­ment test next for Tsipras

MPs to be sworn in to­day ahead of de­bate on gov’t pol­icy pro­gram and draft 2016 bud­get in days ahead

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Fol­low­ing a busy week of diplo­matic ex­changes in New York, on the side­lines of the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras re­turns to Athens for a packed few days of par­lia­men­tary ac­tion.

Tsipras rounded off his trip yesterday as For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias con­firmed that US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry will visit Greece in Novem­ber. The prime min­is­ter met Kerry on Thurs­day. Kotzias said that As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Af­fairs Vic­to­ria Nu­land will travel to Athens first to pre­pare for Kerry’s visit.

How­ever, Tsipras’s fo­cus will quickly have to shift to the do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal scene as MPs are due to be sworn in to­day and a par­lia­men­tary speaker elected to­mor­row be­fore a three-day de­bate be­gins on Mon­day ahead of a con­fi­dence vote at mid­night on Wed­nes­day.

SYRIZA is ex­pected to put for­ward for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter Nikos Vout­sis for the role of par­lia­men­tary speaker. It is not clear if the op­po­si­tion par­ties will sup­port the nom­i­na­tion but the SYRIZA-In­de­pen­dent Greeks coali­tion has a five-seat ma­jor­ity so there is no dan­ger of its can­di­date for the po­si­tion not be­ing elected. The out­go­ing speaker, Zoe Con­stan­topoulou, re­ceived the votes of 235 out of the 300 MPs.

The big­ger chal­lenge for Tsipras will come from Mon­day, when he has to set out his gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy pro­gram and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos also has to sub­mit to Par­lia­ment the draft bud­get for 2016. SYRIZA cam­paigned on the idea of a “par­al­lel pro­gram,” which in­volves re­plac­ing some of the bailout mea­sures agreed with lenders with oth­ers that are less oner­ous for most Greeks. Tsipras will be ex­pected to show how his coali­tion can achieve this while also meet­ing the tar­gets set by lenders, who want more than 40 prior ac­tions to be com­pleted in the next few weeks.

The re­turn of MPs to Par­lia­ment will also sig­nal the start of the process for SYRIZA to re­group af­ter the de­par­ture of its rad­i­cal fac­tion, the Left Plat­form, be­fore the elec­tions. A num­ber of key po­si­tions have been left va­cant. Panayi­o­tis Ri­gas is due to take over as party sec­re­tary, while the first meet­ing of SYRIZA’s cen­tral com­mit­tee is due to take place next week­end.

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