The Greek government overcomes a vote of no confidence in the wiretapping scandal
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has survived a motion of no confidence by opposition MP Alexis Tsipras over the wiretapping scandal.
Of the 300 deputies, 143 voted in favor of the motion of no confidence while 156 opposed it. One lawmaker was absent. The vote followed a heated three-day parliamentary debate. The proposal was expected to fail, with the ruling New Democracy party holding a comfortable majority of 156 seats.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of the main opposition Syriza party, said Wednesday when he made the request that Prime Minister Mitsotakis would be forced to respond publicly over the scandal, over which a series of high-ranking politicians, government ministers and military officers were reportedly under surveillance.
Speaking during the heated debate on Friday, Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of personally ordering the wiretap.
“You knew very well that the surveillance took place, and you knew very well that the surveillance took place because you asked for it, Mr. Mitsotakis,” Tsipras said.
The wiretapping scandal broke in earnest in August, when a top government aide and the head of the country’s intelligence agency resigned after it was revealed that a socialist politician – later elected head of Greece’s third largest party – had been under wiretapping. Mitsotakis insisted at the time that the wiretap was legal but improper and that if he had known about it, he would not have approved it.
The government also later introduced legislation tightening regulations on the use of spyware in the country.
“The government and I have expressed ourselves clearly from the beginning,” Mitsotakis said in response to Tsipras’ letter, noting that he has taken political responsibility, replacing people in specific positions related to the scandal and that the government recently voted on legislation amending the work of Greece’s national intelligence services.
It was done, Mitsotakis said, “without disregarding the mistakes that were made, but also without it being in our intent to dismantle the important state structure, and I repeat, single mistakes and missteps should not overshadow its overall contribution to national security.”
Allegations that other senior officials, journalists and cabinet members were targeted with spyware that can snoop into cellphone calls, contacts, stored data, and gain access to the devices’ microphones and cameras prompted a judicial investigation.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Tsipras said that Greece’s Communications Security and Privacy Authority confirmed, after a request he made to it for more information, that the others who had been placed under phone surveillance were the government’s labor minister, the chief of the general staff of national defense, and a former chief of the army. , a former national security advisor, and a former and current chief of defense forces.
“How patriotic is it for you to be under the command of the Armed Forces’ probation? Tsipras said on Friday.
Although it is still ahead of SYRIZA in opinion polls, the New Democracy party has been hit hard by the scandal as well as by the high cost of living. Greece is scheduled to hold elections in the first half of 2023, although a date has not yet been set.