SYRIZA-ANEL majority in parliament cut by MP resignation

SYRIZA-ANEL majority in parliament cut by MP resignation

Independent Greeks (ANEL) party MP for Thessaloniki, Giorgos Lazaridis, announced his resignation from the government’s junior coalition partner, adding that he will continue as an independent member of the House.

The parliamentarian said his resignation stemmed from his disagreement with the government’s recent name-change agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

“ANEL has, from its inception, been against any use of the term ‘Macedonia’ by neighbours,” Lazaridis’ resignation letter reads.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras commented that he is “not concerned about political stability” in Greece, as the government has in the past “survived even harder circumstances”.

The resignation came a surprise since Lazaridis voted against a no-confidence motion filed by main opposition New Democracy with a view of blocking the FYROM deal. He also attended the Prime Minister’s speech to SYRIZA and ANEL MPs last week at Zappeion, which was essentially a celebration of the debt relief recently granted to Athens by the Eurogroup.

Government sources pointed out on Tuesday that moves are apparently being made to destabilize the coalition. They went as far as to say that certain business interests in Piraeus and Thessaloniki are operating on behalf of Kyriacos Mitsotakis” and have “long been organizing an apostasy”. In response, New Democracy said the government is “panicking, having realized that it is collapsing”.

The Independent Greeks party has asked the MP to give up his seat in parliament. However, with Lazaridis intent to keep his seat as an independent, the ruling majority will be reduced to 152 MPs – 145 of SYRIZA and 7 of ANEL.

Lazaridis’ resignation comes a few days after Independent Greeks MP Dimitris Kammenos was dismissed from the party for supporting the no-confidence motion against the government. The party appears to be in crisis following the deal struck between Athens and Skopje, despite assurances by ANEL leader Panos Kammenos that it will against the ratification of the agreement whenever it comes to Greek parliament.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said “not only is it not threatened, but the government majority is absolutely stable”./IBNA