A small centrist and social democrat-leaning party in Parliament, the Union of Centrists, on Sunday offered its most stinging criticism to date of the embattled leftist Greek government.
The prickly statement coincided with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras’ long-expected Cabinet reshuffle and on the day when new ministers and deputy ministers were sworn in to the biggest, in number, Cabinet since the restoration of democracy in 1974.
The criticism was also noteworthy given the speculation over previous months that the party was a preferred partner to join Tsipras’ coalition government, adding the former’s nine deputies to the slim 153-deputy majority backing the government in the 300-MP Parliament.
“We believe that the foreign powers are retaining Mr. Tsipras because he signs everything and passes it (draft laws) through Parliament,” a party press release read, referring to memorandum-mandated legislation and creditor-backed reforms.
In a statement shortly after Tsipras’ address to his new Cabinet, the Union of Centrists’ predicted that “… with the arrival of 2017 they (creditors) will kick him (Tsipras) out of power, because implementation of reforms requires a consciously pro-European government; not a government of neo-leftists who see Europe as an inconvenience … If we must implement reforms as requested by the Europeans, why did it take us such a long time to realize this?” the press release added.
The party, which existed on Greece’s political fringe for decades, was founded and is led by Vassilis Leventis, who achieved widespread notoriety in the country for his early morning call-in programs on peripheral Athens-area television stations and his characteristic outbursts.
The party finally entered Parliament in the September 2015 snap election, gaining 3.43 percent of the general vote (186,457 votes) to field nine deputies in the legislature.