Greek gov’t wins confidence vote, ahead of European parliament elections

ATHENS, May 11– The government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won a confidence vote in parliament on Friday evening, ahead of the European parliament elections which will be conducted on May 26 in Greece.

A total of 153 MPs voted to support the government, while 136 voted against with 289 lawmakers participating in the roll call vote in the 300-member strong assembly, which was broadcast live on Greek national broadcaster ERT.

In addition to the 145 deputies the Radical Left SYRIZA ruling party has in the plenary, independent lawmakers cast a vote of confidence to the government.
The government has relied on the independents’ in many votes in parliament after the departure earlier this year of the junior partner in the coalition which co-ruled since 2015.
Friday’s vote was called by Tsipras in response to a motion of censure filed by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party against Deputy Health Minister Pavlos Polakis.
The conservatives tabled the censure against Polakis following controversial posts on social media he uploaded a few days ago against a paraplegic candidate in the upcoming European parliament elections who runs with ND.
Polakis criticized wheelchair-bound Stelios Kibouropoulos of “abusing” equal hiring legislation which helps the disabled to find employment, when the latter was hired in the Greek national health service.
During the three-day heated debate in the parliament, SYRIZA and opposition parties clashed mainly over the government’s economic policy, urging voters to send a message in the upcoming elections.
“Greek people will send a strong and clear message on May 26,” Tsipras said, delivering a speech shortly before the vote.
“Citizens can make a first step on May 26 for political change,” ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on his part.
In all recent opinion surveys, the conservatives lead over SYRIZA in both the European parliament elections and the national elections which Tsipras has said will be conducted early October this year, once the government’s four-year term expires – XINHUA