Gov’t shifts strat­egy in wake of re­form snub

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The gov­ern­ment ap­peared to en­gage in dam­age con­trol af­ter fail­ing late Thurs­day to muster the 200 votes in Par­lia­ment it needed to im­me­di­ately – rather than af­ter the next elec­tion – scrap the ex­ist­ing en­hanced pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion sys­tem, which gives the win­ning party a bonus of 50 seats in the 300-seat House.

In­stead, MPs ap­proved the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed changes by a sim­ple ma­jor­ity of 179 votes, mean­ing that 17-year-olds will be able to vote in the next gen­eral elec­tions.

“We are not stress­ing over this at all be­cause we’re go­ing to win the next elec­tions any­way, so keep­ing the ex­ist­ing elec­toral sys­tem is in our fa­vor,” a source close to Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras said yes­ter­day, re­fer­ring to crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion par­ties that the only rea­son the leftist-led coali­tion was push­ing for a change is be­cause it’s lag­ging be­hind New Democ­racy in the polls and wanted to pre­vent the con­ser­va­tive party from form­ing a gov­ern­ment if it were to win the next elec­tions.

How­ever, re­form­ing the elec­toral law has been a stated ob­jec­tive of the rul­ing SYRIZA party – and a long-stand­ing de­mand of the left side of the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal spec­trum – ever since it was in op­po­si­tion.

Fail­ure to do so now is seen by Tsipras’s op­po­nents, within and with­out the party, as a re­sound­ing de­feat.

But, ac­cord­ing to se­nior aides, rather than go­ing on the de­fen­sive, the gov­ern­ment is de­ter­mined to em­bark on a cam­paign to ex­pose the par­ties of the Left by high­light­ing the “be­trayal” of their fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples by re­fus­ing to back in full the gov­ern­ment’s elec­toral re­form changes.

“The par­ties of the cen­ter-Left chose to be the tail of [con­ser­va­tive leader Kyr­i­akos] Mit­so­takis,” one aide said, blam­ing par­ties like so­cial­ist PASOK of heed­ing ND’s call not to back sim­ple pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion as it would cause po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity.

Sources close to Tsipras say his party will con­tinue its cam­paign against cen­ter-left par­ties in the com­ing months as it strives to shed its rad­i­cal la­bel and en­trench it­self as the main pil­lar of that part of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum.

Mean­while, Tsipras is pre­par­ing to an­nounce the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal for a re­view of the Greek Con­sti­tu­tion, an­other mea­sure it had pledged in his pre-elec­tion cam­paigns.

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