Greece’s new government New Democracy won a vote of confidence on Monday night with 158 votes, in a 300-strong chamber, following a three-day debate in plenary over its policy platform.
In statements exiting parliament, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the hard work begins immediately.
“We start the hard work as of tomorrow. We will honor the confidence of the Greek people in us and we will work every day with the main focus, making the lives of Greek men and women better,” Mitsotakis said.
Main opposition party SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras mocked the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ assertions on CNN that far-right and populism have been defeated, speaking in parliament on Monday evening during the debate closing on the government’s policy platform.
Tsipras said that as far as the extreme Right is concerned, “I will take it as a bad joke, since there are several former members of Orthodox Alert (former nationalist party) sitting among you today,” and speaking on populism, he said that “every time we gave critical battles abroad or completed a creditors’ review, you said we would fail.”
“For four years you called us liars,” added Tsipras, “purposely overlooking the fact we were the only government during the bailout memoranda to open itself to the judgment of the Greek people, in September 2015, with a (loan0 agreement on – not under – the table.”
The former PM also accused the New Democracy (ND) leader of using the tragic fire of Mati for political purposes, “yet had no problem later on taking on board the chief of police who handled the tragedy, for your government.”
The worst part of all, “you embraced nationalist-populist talk, and became so-called Macedonian warriors, adopting viewpoints you obviously did not believe,” Tsiras noted in reference to ND’s continuing support to the Prespes Agreement, despite its pre-electoral reactions against it.
“You did not win any battle against populism,” Tsipras concluded, “you encouraged it and made it you moving force in order to become political dominant.”
In direct reply to Tsipras’ accusations of being populist, Mitsotakis said that “it was you that Greeks called liars and populists, and you lost three electoral races,” referring to European, local government and national elections.
“I will not allow myself to lose a single day in improving the lives of Greek citizens,” the PM said.
The ND leader added that ENFIA, the property tax, will be reduced immediately, because his policy is supporting the middle class, “which Tsipras himself had attacked,” and elaborated by saying that “when we cut ENFIA we do not mean to cut it for the benefit of the rich living in the northern suburb of Ekali, but for the middle class, which you exterminated.”
Speaking on issues of public security, Mitsotakis said that “we will do whatever we need to do to keep citizens safe,” mentioned that the law of university asylum will be abolished immediately, and called on KINAL party to clarify its position on the matter, as “there are rumors KINAL is reconsidering its stance on this issue.”
The Greek premier noted the main opposition’s criticism on New Democracy’s eventual endorsement of the Prespes Agreement, but clarified that he had “warned it would be hard to not implement it, from the moment it was passed.” He nevertheless underlined that he will ‘go to battle’ to fight for regulating Greek trademarks and labels bearing the name Macedonia in their products and that he will also take advantage of North Macedonia’s EU accession course so that Greece can benefit the most out of this negotiation.
Finally, addressing MPs of the main opposition party SYRIZA, Mitsotakis called on them to contribute towards minimising what he called the negative consequences of the Prespes Agreement, but if they are not willing to do so, he said, then New Democracy will move ahead on its own.