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“Coup-Like Situation” in Greek Parliament Session over Constitutionality of Austerity Package

The crucial debate over the austerity measures package started with turmoil and a coup-like situation in the Greek Parliament on Wednesday morning after main opposition party SYRIZA and Independent Greeks challenged the compatibility of the bill with the Greek Constitution.

SYRIZA and INDEPGREEKS submitted two motions against the bill saying that ‘the emergency procedure’ under which the bill was brought to Parliament was against the Constitution.

Opposition MPs stressed that nobody can read the 279 pages of the bill within just two days.

The bill was submitted to Parliament on Monday evening and was approved by the relevant parliamentary committee last night, with votes of Nea Dimocratia and PASOK only.

In the first voting of the motions, MPs voted by standing. Parliament speaker said there were not enough votes and that the motion was rejected. However it is not clear how this happened, as the hall was half-empty with many coalition government MPs were absent. Parliament Speakers’ decision was questioned by opposition parties and a turmoil with loud voices and objections started.

In just cases, the majority is based on the number of present MPs.

 The issue drew the criticism of SYRIZA and INDEPGREEKS. They both said, that there had photo evidence that the standing MPs were enough. SYRIZA asked a roll call.

Parliament speaker suspended the session as foreseen by the parliament regulations. But then the real problems started. Instead of having a break for only 10 minutes, the session started again one and a hour later.

Why? Because many Nea Dimocratia MPs were absent, Samaras’ party needed support to down vote the motion and MPs needed time to rush to the Parliament plenary. Even the Prime Minister came to the plenary heavily breathing!

Taking the floor, Alexis Tsipras (SYRIZA) said “the bill that will plunge the country into a deep and protracted recession is coming for a vote  in a single article.”

ND’s Voridis accused opposition of not wanting to discuss substance and not respecting basic rules.

KKE’s Pafilis said the tactics of the government on this whole issue is illegal. He called for people’s disobedience.

PASOK’s Venizelos said, we can’t hide behind procedural matters, challenge constitutionality in court.

Golden Dawn parl’t spokesman accused Parliament speaker of acting illegally.

Democratic Left spokesman accused opposition of not respecting the very concept of constitutionality, using it for party’s profit.

Despite the fact that SYRIZA withdrew the request for roll call vote on the motion, the voting is now taking place. The seats of government partners ND, PASOK and DEMLEFT are now filled.

SYRIZA MP Sakorafa refused to participate in counting roll call vote, saying this is a coup-like situation.

SYRIZA MPs left the assembly to protest illegality of this vote.

Procedure to debate “bills on emergency procedure” need a 10-hour debate. However the Parliament speaker announced that the procedure could be ‘more flexible’ as more than four hours have been wasted due to the Constitutionality issue and the voting.

 Roll-call results: 217 voted, 47 said “unconstitutional”, 170 [gov’ MPs] said “constitutional”. Motion rejected, debate over the austerity bill restarts.

The voting will most likely tak place after midnight.

sources: Parliament TV, Greek media, Twitter: @IrateGreek and @dianalizia

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