Greek con­fi­dence vote as min­is­ter re­signs

Irish Examiner - - World - Michele Kam­bas

Greek prime min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras said yes­ter­day that he would call a con­fi­dence vote in his gov­ern­ment after his coali­tion ally quit, leav­ing him bereft of a par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity and rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of snap elec­tions.

Ear­lier, Greece’s rightwing de­fence min­is­ter re­signed in protest at a deal end­ing a long-run­ning dis­pute with Mace­do­nia over its name, say­ing he was tak­ing his other six min­is­ters in cab­i­net with him.

The cri­sis left the fate of a 2018 deal chang­ing the name of Mace­do­nia to North Mace­do­nia in limbo. Greek par­lia­men­tary en­dorse­ment of the name is re­quired for the tiny Balkan na­tion to join the Euro­pean Union and Nato. Mace­do­nia’s par­lia­ment has al­ready rat­i­fied the ac­cord with a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment.

Out­go­ing de­fence min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos’s In­de­pen­dent Greeks party had seven MPs, enough to get Tsipras’ ad­min­is­tra­tion past the thresh­old of 150 deputies in the 300-mem­ber par­lia­ment. Tsipras’s Syriza party has 145 seats and the sup­port of one in­de­pen­dent law­maker.

“I have taken my de­ci­sion and have in­formed the pres­i­dent of par­lia­ment that we will im­me­di­ately move to the process out­lined by the con­sti­tu­tion for the re­newal of the con­fi­dence in my gov­ern­ment,” Tsipras said.

The con­fi­dence vote is ex­pected to take place later this week and par­lia­men­tary speaker Nikos Vout­sis pro­posed Wed­nes­day. Kam­menos said he would not sup­port Tsipras in the vote.

Syriza is trail­ing be­tween eight and 12 points be­hind the main con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy party, which also op­posed the deal with Mace­do­nia, in polls.

A fire­brand left­ist, Tsipras was elected in 2015 on a plat­form of anti-aus­ter­ity but was forced into a third in­ter­na­tional bailout to bring Greece back from the brink of bank­ruptcy. The coun­try ex­ited a bailout pro­gram in mid-2018.

Kam­menos, who forged a coali­tion pact with Tsipras in 2015, never hid his hos­til­ity to the deal with Skopje.

Greece has a prov­ince called Mace­do­nia and long de­manded Skopje change its coun­try name to re­move what Athens con­sid­ered an im­plied claim to Greek ter­ri­tory. The wran­gle frus­trated Mace­do­nia’s EU and Nato as­pi­ra­tions. Greece is a mem­ber of both and has a say in who gets to join.

■ Reuters

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