Wildfires continued to burn in many parts of Greece on Wednesday, casting a shadow over the government’s determination to pursue its legislative agenda at the start of its new term.
Parliament was set to vote on the government’s economic bill on Wednesday in the shadow of the ongoing forest fires, which also claimed their first lives this summer.
Opposition parties demanded answers from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the authorities’ handling of catastrophic forest fires that continued to burn on various fronts, after a weekend of destruction which made global headlines with the evacuation of thousands of holidaymakers on the island of Rhodes.
The pressure on the government over the handling of wildfires increased materially over the weekend as Greece experienced a record heatwave and thousands of tourists had to be evacuated on Rhodes as a blaze ripped through the island after burning for several days.
The surveillance scandal, which had become virtually a non-issue in Greek politics over the last few months, is back as a topic of debate after the Data Protection Authority in Athens completed its investigation into the use of Predator spyware and published a summary of its findings on Thursday.
The government is not being sidetracked from its policy making by the ongoing wildfires, which have buffeted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his administration this week, with more expected to come as the heatwave extends into a third week.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is trying to put himself front and centre in the government’s response to the ongoing wildfires as questions are being asked again about the level of preparedness for the current fire season and the resources available to the fire service.
As happened several times during its first term, the government is being tested by wildfires again after several large blazes broke out on Monday in and around Attica.
Amid a heatwave that has put the government on alert for potential wildfires, and an early blow to its reputation after recently being re-elected, New Democracy is fleshing out its priorities for the new term.
In his first primetime domestic TV interview since winning re-election, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis suggested that he is seeking a comprehensive settlement with Turkey on longstanding disputes.