Athens, Jan 17 (IANS) The Greek Parliament late on Wednesday renewed its support for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a leftist, after he asked for a vote of confidence when his coalition with the nationalists broke up on January 13 following a spat over the agreement reached with neighbouring Macedonia to rename that country.
The vote ended with 151 votes in favour of the government after two days of debate in which the leader of the leftist Syriza party defended the Prespa agreement with Macedonia as a stabilizer of the region and stressed the need to complete his mandate to promote his social agenda after the end of the financial aid programs by the European Union (EU).
“The government is asking for a vote of confidence to continue its efforts. We want a greater reduction of unemployment, increase the minimum wage, complete the reform of the Constitution. This is the work that lies ahead,” said Tsipras, closing the debate and stressing that the purpose of this request is to have the full backing of the parliamentarians to continue this work.
After this accolade, Tsipras intends to hold on as prime minister until October, to complete those plans and try to make amends with the Greek people before the elections, after Greece suffered financial distress by the cuts imposed by the country’s creditors under his leadership, Efe reported.
Although Tsipras could have won the confidence vote with half plus one of the votes in favour of the deputies present (with a minimum of 120), he set himself the objective of obtaining the absolute majority and announced that, if he did not achieve it, he would call early elections.
Having passed this test, the Hellenic Parliament will soon have to ratify the Prespa agreement, which will open the doors of NATO and accession negotiations in the EU to the now renamed Northern Macedonia.
Precisely the term “Northern Macedonia” was the trigger that led Tsipras to ask this question of confidence, after his partner, Panos Kammenos, left his post as defence minister on January 13 and broke up the coalition that had governed Greece since January 2015 disagreeing with the new name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).