Saturday, June 15 2024

Politics hardens in runup to elections

Politics hardens in runup to elections

Relations between the government and the main opposition have never been anything less than contentious, but now the government is accusing opposition leader Alexis Tsipras of creating a “toxic” environment which he intends to maintain until elections take place in spring.

A recent interview given by Tsipras, the leader of left-wing SYRIZA and prime minister between 2015 and 2019, to private TV station Skai, is considered by government officials as signaling an escalation in attacks beyond what the opposition leader had done over the previous 40 months of the conservative New Democracy government.

In his interview, Tsipras called the government “blue locusts” – using the ruling party’s colors – making a grab for public money. He added to his accusations of corruption in an interview on a SYRIZA-friendly radio station, accusing an MP recently booted out by New Democracy for purchasing bad loans from banks, not an illegal activity but one deemed as incompatible with his position as a member of Parliament. He also added the names of a government functionary and the CEO of Public Power Corporation as taking part in an “assault” on public money.

“There will be an incredibly toxic environment, with Mr Tsipras having chosen to go to the elections clamoring about scandals,” a government minister told Kathimerini.

Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou put himself on the record on Wednesday, with similar claims: “The scandal-mongering and moralizing indulged passionately in by Mr Tsipras are not a solution to his political incompetence. They will not be lifesavers, as he hopes. But that’s what he knows to do.”

Government officials say that Tsipras’ tactic is to make the moderate voters, many belonging to the center and center-left, which flocked to the conservatives in the July 2019 election, feel disgusted at “corrupt politics.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has decided he will respond to his rival in person selectively: He will not attend, for example, a Parliament session on Friday to respond personally to a question by the opposition leader on the bugging of the cellphones of socialist leader Nikos Androulakis and other politicians. Mitsotakis’ aides say that this is because Tsipras’ allegations are based on the government using the Israeli-made Predator spyware, a fact strenuously denied by Mitsotakis.