Coalition put to test
Junior partner reaffirms partnership with SYRIZA but draws red lines
The apparent intention of ruling SYRIZA to denounce New Democracy as an ultra-conservative party could lead to to a rupture with junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL), which shares the opinion of the opposition conservatives on a number of issues.
After reaffirming the country’s Orthodox Christian profile on Wednesday in response to comments by SYRIZA MP and Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis, ANEL leader and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos upped the ante again yesterday, telling Skai TV that Greece “has a constitution that recognizes the country’s official religion to be Orthodox.”
Voutsis had told a journalist that “Orthodoxy concerns 90 percent of the population” and that Greece is “not a fundamentalist Orthodox state.”
According to analysts, Kammenos’s mention of the Constitution could be viewed as a warning shot to SYRIZA – ahead of the debate to review the Greek Constitution – that far-right ANEL will not be on the same page as the leftist party on all issues.
Despite the agreement between the two parties to close ranks when it comes to implementing the tough dictates stipulated in the country’s bailout commitments, their cohabitation in government will be increasingly tested as SYRIZA proceeds to push for a more progressive agenda on social and environmental issues.
This was loud and clear in Kammenos’s interview with Skai.
In an apparent reference to the latest snag concerning the huge investment at the site of the former airport at Elliniko in southern Athens as a result of obstacles raised by the forestry department, Kammenos said, “It is unbelievable that a forester could stop a huge investment.”
Although he insisted that “we will stay the course with SYRIZA until the end,” Kammenos stressed that his party had drawn “red lines” that cannot be crossed.
He did, however, say that the coalition has worked so far because he and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras engage in “a very frank dialogue.”