Thursday’s vote on the proposals put forward by the government and the opposition for changes to the Greek Constitution proved to be a mixed bag for SYRIZA and New Democracy.
New Democracy denied on Thursday that it has any plans to propose former socialist prime minister Kostas Simitis or ex-PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos as future presidential candidates amid a clash with SYRIZA over how to decouple the appointment of the next head of state from possible snap elections.
For those looking out for signs of when the next elections might be held, a couple of comments this week by SYRIZA officials fuelled speculation that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will call snap polls in May.
MPs began debating on Tuesday the proposed changes to the Greek constitution before a vote on Thursday in what is shaping to be another political battle between SYRIZA and New Democracy, although the parties agree on aspects of the revision.
Two opinion polls published over the weekend suggest that the gap between SYRIZA and New Democracy is not as wide as other surveys suggest, despite the conservative party’s best efforts to capitalise on the apparent widespread displeasure with the Macedonia name deal.
As MPs debated on Friday the NATO accession protocol for North Macedonia, the actions of former coalition partner Panos Kammenos were under scrutiny again, with some commentators suggesting that this could prove a factor in the timing of the next general elections.
A day ahead of a vote in Greek Parliament on the NATO accession protocol for North Macedonia, for which the SYRIZA government has received praise from its European partners, New Democracy was given encouragement from Europe regarding its aim to revise primary surplus targets if it comes to power.
The unorthodox way in which SYRIZA is clinging to power continues to be the main topic of political debate in Greece.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras instructed parliamentary speaker Nikos Voutsis (also a SYRIZA MP) not to proceed with any changes to parliamentary rules that would impact on the privileges available to elected parties that are no longer able to muster a parliamentary group (minimum five lawmakers).
SYRIZA has indicated that it is willing to do a favour to its former coalition partner, Independent Greeks (ANEL), whose parliamentary group is close to the point of no longer being recognised.