Main opposition New Democracy’s proposal to set up a Parliamentary examining committee to look into the events that led to Greece signing a third memorandum with its creditors, as well as the imposition of a bank holiday and capital controls, was rejected by a majority of MPs in Parliament on Tuesday.
The proposal failed to collect the 120 votes needed under Parliament rules for a committee of inquiry to be set up, with the final count showed 155 votes against, 96 votes in favour and 20 votes of ‘present’. The proposal was rejected by MPs of the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition and the Centrists’ Union and supported by ND, Democratic Alliance and Potami MPs, as well as the independent MPs Haris Theoharis and Leonidas Grigorakos.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Golden Dawn both abstained, voting ‘present’.
Government Vice President Yiannis Dragasakis addressed the plenum in the debate leading up to the vote, instead of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, noting that the ND proposal was a tactical move. He said that “2015 was a battle in war that hasn’t finished” and was being fought with “asymmetrical means” that included economic strangulation and open blackmail, which the main opposition had assisted.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos summarily dismissed arguments presented by main opposition New Democracy to support its call for a Parliamentary probe, accusing ND and the Democratic Alliance of an attempt to disorient public opinion.
“I am more ready to believe that [ND leader] Kyriakos Mitsotakis is a political prisoner than that Greece’s debt, if SYRIZA had not been in government, would not have been 300 billion euros but 200 billion-odd,” Tsakalotos said, in response to the main opposition’s claim that the tactics adopted in the first half of 2015 led to economic damages of 86-100 billion euros.
Citing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, the finance minister said the previous governments were to blame for the country’s dire economic woes due to their failure to quickly recapitalise the banks and for failing to address the problem of non-performing loans.
Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis told Parliament that the negotiations in April and August 2015 had not been based on disastrous threats to exit the euro but “on restoring an atmosphere of trust, creating alliances and exploiting the contradictions in the Eurozone, not the opportunist choice of the country’s exit from the euro.”
He said he supported an investigation of how the country was led to economic disaster from the start of the memorandums in 2010 until the present “away from the spotlight of publicity, like that conducted by the United Kingdom on the war in Iraq.”
According to Chouliarakis, flawed ND planning had failed to prepare the country for an exit from the memorandums.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis attacked Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Parliament on Tuesday, accusing him of “ducking” the debate and letting Yiannis Dragasakis speak in his stead, during a discussion on ND’s proposal for a Parliamentary inquiry into the reasons that led Greece to sign a third memorandum.
Even if ND’s proposal was rejected now, “this examining committee will be set up in the next Parliament,” Mitsotakis promised and accused the government of being afraid to let the truth come out.
Mitsotakis then referred at length to the role played by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, suggesting that the plan may have been to leave the euro all along.
“Perhaps Plan B was in fact Plan A and at the last minute Tsipras got scared and gave the creditors everything? That is what Varoufakis charges. There is no Varoufakis issue. There is a Tsipras issue and Tsipras can no longer hide behind Varoufakis,” the main opposition leader said.
Mitsotakis went on to accuse the government of tacticalism in bringing the simple proportional representation bill, but also for launching a process for revising the constitution in the middle of summer as a “communications” exercise. He noted that multiple opportunities to improve the country’s institutions and its growth were being lost under Tsipras’ leadership.
The government had known its pre-election promises could not be honoured and had gambled with the country’s prestige until it was forced into a disorderly retreat in the face of impending disaster, he said, leading the country to a “parody” of a referendum and the imposition of capital controls.
“You knew your decision would leave Greece without a programme and that the European Central Bank would be forced to cut off Emergency Liquidity Assistance,” Mitsotakis said, while noting that Varoufakis and James Galbraith in their book had revealed that preparations were being made for a ‘Plan B’ and parallel currency in the case that Greece left the euro.