Rumours had been circulating since yesterday that, following the vote over the suspension of the parliamentary immunity of Golden Dawn MPs, parliament would be shut down early, remaining closed for the next two weeks until the smaller summer assemblies get under way. This was confirmed around 17.00 by an official notice posted on the parliament’s entrance.
The reasoning ostensibly was that over the next two weeks there are no votes or other activities due which would require a plenary session.
Yet this was immediately contradicted by SYRIZA which has for months requested parliamentary discussions on a range of topics. The opposition party’s parliamentary spokesperson Panagiotis Lafazanis claimed that the closure was a unilateral move to defer key parliamentary debates until the autumn.
With the shutdown, the cases against several MPs currently being examined by the Ethics Committee will now be suspended. These include requests to lift the parliamentary immunity of the Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis and Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis as well as the Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris and Independent MP (formerly of Independent Greeks) Vasilis Kapernaros.
Mr Michelakis has been accused of receiving bribes in order to operate in parliament on behalf of the ship owner Anastasio Pallis, while Mr Georgiadis is accused of interfering in the justice system. Ilias Kasidiaris faces charges related to the Baltakos case and making unauthorized recordings, while Kapernaros is accused of tax evasion.
SYRIZA also notes that the move will allow certain controversial bills – such as the draft legislation which will facilitate privatizations of the Greek coastline – to be more easily passed into law. The summer sessions in parliament consist only of 100 MPs which will make it easier for the government to preserve its majority and prevent defections. Regarding the coastline bill several New Democracy and PASOK MPs have said they would vote against it.