By Gerasimos Livitsanos
The government appears divided over the bill to create the ‘small PPC’ (Public Power Corporation). Leaks from sources close to the Speaker of the Parliament maintaining that it is his ‘personal opinion’ that a plenary session of parliament must be held immediately to discuss the issue are in direct opposition to the plans leaking from the Prime Minister’s circle according to which the debate will never take place.
In reality the situation betrays the cornering of the coalition government that is going through a difficult period that began with result of the European elections and will continue until the crucial process to elect a new president of the republic.
The government according to parliamentary sources has 3 scenarios on the table:
Scenario 1: To not accept any discussion regarding a referendum. That was the reasoning behind the plan to highlight the fiscal nature of the bill, given that the constitution states that fiscal legislation is not subject to referenda. The political logic of such a move would be based on the linking of the PPC bill to the memorandum agreements that have been signed with the country’s lenders. Additionally it would be supported by a refusal to link the separate referendum proposals which are likely to be submitted by different parties (SYRIA, Democratic Left, Independent Greeks, KKE and Golden Dawn) or an outright rejection of the proposals citing the difficult economic situation.
Scenario 2: To implement the… ‘Baltakos method’! That is to use obstructions to delay a parliamentary discussion about the issue until October as occurred with the SYRIZA proposal for a parliamentary discussion about the links the former government general secretary Takis Baltakos had with the neo-fascist party Golden Dawn. According to this scenario, the government could employ a range of methods to block discussion about the bill – for example by stating that it is waiting for the Scientific Council of Parliament to first weigh in on the legislation.
Scenario 3: For there to be an immediate parliamentary discussion given that it will be impossible for the motion to hold a referendum to be passed. This appears to be the approach favoured by the Parliamentary Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis, protecting his institutional role and following the logic that ‘attack is the best form of defense’. According to this reasoning the government can ‘clean up’ in one weekend with the discussion after which the ‘people’s summer holidays’ will begin. One of the potential maneuvers that the government may employ is to add together all of the signatures of MPs on the various requests for a referendum including that submitted by Golden Dawn. In an extreme scenario it could even leave out the signatures of KKE because they are demanding a referendum on the sum of legislation liberalising the energy market that has been passed since 1990. In that manner it could attempt to portray SYRIZA as an ‘ally’ of the populist Independent Greeks and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.
Additionally to have a total view to have a comprehensive view of the subject, one must take the following into account:
- In order for the referendum proposal to be approved it must receive the support of 180 MPs (out of 300). Such a majority is impossible to be achieved with the current makeup of parliament.
- The parties’ proposals cannot be officially submitted until Thursday, given that according to article 44, paragraph 2 of the constitution the opposition has a right to submit such a proposal only for legislation that has been voted on.
- In order for a plenary session of parliament to be held – either on the weekend, or any other three day period during the operation of the summer session of parliament (which is comprised of 100 MPs) – a decision by the government and not the president of parliament is required. A presidential decree must be issued just as occurred for the closure of parliament on the 4th of June. The parliamentary president can only submit proposals to the government.
- The presidential decree can dictate in detail the matters which will occupy the irregular plenary session. This means that opposition parties would be unable to exploit the plenary session to raise other issues.