By George Gilson
PM Alexis Tsipras and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis exchanged vitriolic and below-the-belt attacks over issues ranging from economic policy to their private vacations to how their families made their fortunes.
Personal debt in Greece has skyrocketed to 140 billion euros from 85 billion euros, said main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the parliamentary debate on the confidence vote called by the government.
Mitsotakis had tabled a no-confidence motion against Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras under parliamentary rules chose to turn the no-confidence motion against the minister into a confidence motion for the government. The vote will be on 10 May.
Tsipras said that the 10 May parliamentary vote and the 26 May elections are a confidence vote on the government’s economic stimulus programme.
Tsipras hammered Mitsotakis as a neo-liberal who wants to roll back the social state and said that the ND leader has a secret agenda that is fully aligned with the policies of the IMF.
He lambasted Mitsotakis for supporting conservative EPP party Manfred Weber, the conservatives’ candidate for the European Commission presidency who in 2015 supported kicking Greece out of the eurozone.
After Tsipras announced his economic stimulus programme on 7 May, Weber attacked him as irresponsible in a tweet.
Both Tsipras and Mitsotakis exchanged barbs about each other’s families, with the PM calling the opposition leader’s family «enormously wealthy»and Mitsotakis replying that Tsipras’ family (his father was a contractor) made its fortune by getting building contract from the junta (1967-1974).
The PM dismissed ND’s attacks against Polakis and said his minister has been torn to shreds by New Democracy and a segment of the press.
Tsipras’ yacht vacation denounced
The uproar over the PM’s vacation last August on the yacht of the late shipowner Periklis Panagopoulos without publicly announcing the gift also spilled into Parliament.
Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of recruiting deep state agents to get on the yacht to «steal private moments» from his vacation on the luxury vessel by surreptitiously photographing him. He sarcastically told the opposition leader that he would have been happy to provide him with photos if he had just asked.
Mitsotakis hammers PM, Polakis
Mitsotakis attacked the PM relentlessly on issues such as his handling of the Mati wildfire last July (101 dead), about Polakis, and about Tsipras’ Ionian cruise in August, 2018 (which was never officially made public) on a shipowner’s luxury yacht, a few weeks after the Mati disaster.
Mitsotakis said Tsipras’ economic stimulus programme, including tax cuts, is too little too late and is in no way a growth programme.
He said the government is offering citizens a fraction of what the state took from them in taxes and otherwise on Tsipras’ watch.
The opposition leader hammered Tsipras’ economic stimulus package and the PM replied that New Democracy will vote for all the pro-popular measures in the bill next week.
«Now you come along right before the elections ‘remembering’ to table the bill allowing 120 repayment instalments on delinquent taxes and celebrating about a bill that should have been passed earlier, so as to avert a burgeoning of the debt,» said Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis dismisses PM’s escrow account idea
The ND leader dismissed the 5.5 billion euros escrow account to reassure creditors announced by Tsipras and compared it to the 29 tax hikes the government has instituted in the last four years.
Mitsotakis accused Tsipras of «pretending he is either a leftist radical and at other times a social-democrat» and of «pretending to be a patriot» but recognising the existence of a Macedonian language and identity in the Prespa Agreement.