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ATHENS – Heated exchanges marked the beginning of three days of debate on a vote of confidence Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras sought, with the major opposition declaring he had cozied up to the ultra-far right Golden Dawn.

The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA,) which is opening a lead in polls over New Democracy, used the debate to go after the Premier, who was defended to the hilt by his party, especially Health Mlnister Makis Voridis who said the Leftists had indirectly incited the murder of an anti-Fascist hip-hop artist by a man police linked to Golden Dawn.

“The opposition did not engage in constructive criticism over the past two years,” said Voridis, who opened the discussion because Samaras was at a European Union meeting in Brussels.

“I remind you of the swearing, the threats, the terrorizing and the nooses when the coalition MPs were trying to keep the country standing,” said Voridis, who jumped from the far-right LAOS party to join New Democracy and was rewarded with a plum position.

Voridis also accused SYRIZA of engaging in “hate speech,” which stoked political tension that he said played a part in the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member and the assassination of two members of the neo-Nazi party, Argyris Kapelonis and Giorgos Fountoulis.

SYRIZA’s opening speaker, economic spokesman Yiannis Dragasakis, immediately attacked Voridis’ words.

“Isn’t Mr. Samaras the architect of the theory of the two extremes?” he asked. “And who was it that was in contact with the criminal organization [Golden Dawn]?” he added in reference to the revelations earlier this year that the Premier’s former aide Panayiotis Baltakos had a secret meeting with Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris.

Dragasakis then accused the government of succumbing to pressure from businessmen to change laws.

“Today it just takes a powerful businessman, a major publisher, sometimes even a medium-sized publisher, a shipowner, a friend of the prime minister to call up and have a law abolished or a fine scrapped,” said the SYRIZA lawmaker.

State Minister Dimitris Stamatis challenged Dragasakis to provide some examples to back up his allegations, Kathimerini said.

“Of course we will name names but I am not ready to do so now,” said the opposition MP. “I will decide when to do so. Until then, check the amendments that were made by Mr. Baltakos and after that we can speak again.”

Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and another five extreme-right lawmakers who are in pretrial custody are to lodge appeals with the Greek judicial system and the European Court of Human Rights after a prosecutor rejected their requests to appear in Parliament ahead of Friday night’s vote of confidence in the government.

Apart from Michaloliakos, requests were made by the party’s second-in-command Christos Pappas, spokesman Kasidiaris, the MPs Nikos Michos and Panagiotis Iliopoulos, as well as Stathis Boukouras, who quit the party in March and is now an independent lawmaker.

In a statement released via his lawyer, Michaloliakos condemned the decision as “unprecedented” and “a blatant violation of the Constitution.” Of GD’s 16 MPs, nine are in custody pending trial on a series of criminal charges.

The debate is essentially perfunctory as Samaras is almost certain to win because New Democracy has 126 votes in Parliament and his partner the PASOK Socialists have 28 for a total of 154. Only 151 votes is needed to win in the 300-memer Parliament and with nine Golden Dawn lawmakers in jail, only 146 is needed now.

Samaras, however, wants to try to get 180 or as close to that as he can, the threshold needed to elect his choice for a symbolic Greek President in February, 2015 to replace Karolos Papoulias.

SYRIZA said it would oppose any candidate from the ruling parties and if it succeeds in getting enough support, that would force early elections.

The debate will continue through Oct. 10 with a vote at midnight.

The post New Democracy, SYRIZA Lawmakers Clash Over Samaras Confidence Vote appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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