New Democracy MPs congratulate Prime Minister Antonis Samaras after his address to Parliament ahead of the no-confidence vote in the early hours of Monday.
Both the governing coalition and main leftist opposition SYRIZA were on Monday assessing the outcome of the latter’s censure motion against the government in the early hours after the leftists lost, as expected, but also deprived the coalition of an MP in the process.
All but two of the government’s 155 deputies rejected SYRIZA’s censure motion in a vote in Parliament early Monday that followed three days of vehement debate involving party leaders frequently trading insults.
One of the two MPs was absent from the vote while the other, PASOK deputy Theodora Tzakri, supported SYRIZA’s motion, breaking ranks with the government. She was immediately expelled from PASOK’s parliamentary group, reducing the government’s parliamentary majority to just four seats. SYRIZA’s motion garnered a total of 124 votes, from its own MPs and those of smaller opposition parties including the ultra-right Golden Dawn. Another 17 lawmakers voted “present.”
Speaking after the vote, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras declared that the government had emerged “much stronger” and insisted that elections would not be held until 2016, when the current government’s term is to expire, in response to a call by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for snap polls.
Sources indicated that the broader impression among senior government officials was that Tsipras had failed to deliver a strong and convincing performance in Parliament.
But the defection of Tzakri, who accused the government of having a “democratic deficit,” was broadly seen as an embarrassment, particularly to PASOK, which has lost six deputies since last year’s elections.
In the ranks of SYRIZA though, her dismissal was interpreted as a small success for the party, which had been certain to lose the vote, as it trimmed the government’s wafer-thin majority yet further ahead of crucial votes in Parliament on a new property tax and the budget for 2014. But the leftists were reportedly disappointed by the small turnout at a protest rally in central Syntagma Square organized by the party to coincide with vote. Around 3,000 people turned up, prompting snide comments by coalition MPs speaking in Parliament about SYRIZA’s waning influence on the public.