Centre-left KINAL appears to be moving onto the centre stage of Greek politics and becoming a greater factor in the calculations taking place ahead of the next elections, as evidenced by comments made by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in a TV interview and the findings of a new opinion poll.
The handling of an alleged rape has prompted calls for justice and impartiality over concerns of a potential cover-up, while it has raised questions about progress in the government’s drive to tackle violent crime against women.
SYRIZA appears to believe that the wave of inflation being felt by Greek consumers since late last year, along with the ongoing complications from the pandemic, are having a damaging effect on the centre-right government.
On the day when fines kicked in for unvaccinated citizens over the age of 60, the government has been hailing the success of the mandate in increasing vaccination rates. Continuing high death rates and record hospitalisations from Covid-19, however, make it unlikely that restrictions will be lifted in the coming week.
The government is trying to tread a fine line between fiscal prudence and cushioning the impact of the pandemic and inflation as it tweaks its economic policy in 2022.
The government appears to be focussing most of its efforts on addressing the impact of inflation, and therefore minimising any political impact it might have, as it believes that the threat from the pandemic is waning.
Persistently high infection rates and a rapid increase in daily hospitalisations from Covid has led the government’s expert committee to advise against lifting restrictions on dining and entertainment too soon.
In his first interview of 2022, the new KINAL leader Nikos Androulakis rebuffed attempts to associate his centre-left party with New Democracy or SYRIZA and insisted that he would preserve its independence and develop its identity as a European social democratic grouping.
The twin pressures from inflation and Omicron look set to enter new levels in the coming days, leading the government to trail new economic support measures, as well as adjustments to the mix of Covid rules.
The start of the new school term dominated the political agenda on Monday as the government hopes that pupils returning to classes will not trigger a new spike of Covid infections, which the opposition will pounce upon as the latest example of New Democracy mishandling the pandemic.