Political Leaders Debate Stalemate 2023

A televised discussion between the key party leaders ten days before the Greek elections failed to educate voters.

Politicians debated six topics, including the economy and foreign and defense affairs, in concurrent monologues for three hours.

SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras, PASOK-Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Nikos Androulakis, Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoubas, Greek Solution leader Kyriakos Velopoulos, and MeRA25 Secretary Yanis Varoufakis participated.

Greek elections: Economy debated

New Democracy leader and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated inflation is worldwide. “Greece has started dropping, but food prices remain high.”

He said the market pass program helped families struggling with high living costs, but a second four-year term would raise earnings.

“Inflation will drop, but wage increases will be permanent,” he said.

SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras stated there is fiscal space to raise civil workers’ pay after 14 years by taxing major corporations’ excess earnings.

“While the average household is left without money three weeks into the month, 15 large Stock Exchange businesses have 20-year records of 1 billion euros in profits each,” he noted.

“If we do not decide to make radical changes, in a few years there will be no middle class left,” he said, criticizing the government for 10 billion euros in subsidies “so that energy companies can keep prices high.”

Nikos Androulakis, head of PASOK-Movement for Change (KINAL), backed economic stability above a halt or new fiscal excursions.

While all other parties warned of painful primary surpluses and 350 clearly antipopular measures to drive the Greek people to their knees again, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoubas declared its proposal served the Greek people.

Greek Solution chairman Kyriakos Velopoulos stated every serious nation should have a Plan B to handle challenges. Velopoulos remarked that a parallel currency does not assist, but there must be an alternative if the eurozone collapses.

MeRA25 Secretary Yanis Varoufakis remarked that his party’s “Dimitra” idea is a payment mechanism, not a currency. He cautioned that Greece is walking into an international economic minefield without protection.

Defense and diplomacy

New Democracy leader and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated the armaments initiatives were well-planned and fiscally responsible.

“That is why we had primary surpluses in 2022 and will this year.”

“Greece built very powerful alliances, and the balance between Greece and Türkiye in the US Congress is leaning toward Greece,” he said.

“We will respect the choice of the Turkish people, and I am willing to talk with whomever it chooses,” the ND leader said of Turkish elections.

SYRIZA-“Obviously honor the defense contracts Greece has signed, but will fight to bring projects to the Greek defense industry as well,” said Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras.

He said “it is unacceptable that a program of 14-15 billion euros has not brought a single euro to the Greek defense industry.”

“Defending the borders is self-evident,” declared the main opposition leader, whose administration did not knock down the border wall. However, fences cannot address migration and refugee concerns, only European discussions can.

Whoever wins Turkey’s elections, PASOK-KINAL chairman Nikos Androulakis stated his party’s stance toward Turkey followed three broad paths:

a) Lifting the EU veto to create a Turkish policy,

b) protecting the borders and utilizing European cash to strengthen the border wall since Greek borders are European boundaries,

c) bolstering Greek defense programs and industries.

Dimitris Koutsoubas, head of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), stated all weapons deals with France, the US, and other nations serve NATO’s interests and lead to aggressive activities that would make Greece a target of retribution.

“Sending armaments to Ukraine, having Hellenic Air Force jets flying over the Balkans, and warships sailing the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea does not serve the need to protect Greece’s airspace, borders, and sovereign rights,” he stated.

In a multi-polar world, select your side. Kyriakos Velopoulos stated. “Macedonia” and North Epirus were lost under the West, notwithstanding international conventions.

We lost half of Cyprus, the Aegean, and maybe Thrace. “Greek Solution’s national interest determines our side,” he stated.

“The defense of our national space is an obligation we all have,” MeRA25 Secretary Yanis Varoufakis stated when asked what he would do if Turkish troops landed on a Greek islet.

Since MeRA25 refuses bilateral talks with Turkey, it is holding a regional international conference on maritime zone delimitation.

Wiretapping and Greek elections

Opposition leaders criticized Mitsotakis on the 2022 wiretapping issue.

The New Democracy leader told media that he did not consider leaving, “but courageously assumed my responsibility and two specific commitments” to analyze the situation and fix legislative mistakes.

The PM stated the reasons for tapping the commander of the Greek Armed Forces, a political leader, and an active minister “were not adequate” and that “Mr. Androulakis does not comprise any kind of danger for the security of Greece, and should not be under surveillance.” “It cast a shadow over our government, I have no doubt about it, and it should not have occurred,” the New Democracy leader stated.

SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras wondered how he could “collaborate with Androulakis tomorrow if he is truly a ‘agent’ and ‘a national threat’.”

The major opposition leader said he has called on all progressive parties to join his coalition government in the May 21 elections because he has a proposal to raise salaries, lower prices, and control debts. “I see approaches, but we’ll see them better after elections,” he said.

“The wiretapping issue has haunted the domestic political system, Greece has come under the cross-hairs for issues related to institutions, violations of human rights and of the division of powers,” PASOK-KINAL’s Androulakis stated.

“I trust Greek justice, not its political system,” he continued.

“Such a dark state with so many involved, and the crisis of trust is also related to the behavior of other parties,” Androulakis said, incredulous.

Respect and fairness need politicians to demonstrate separation of powers

The PASOK-KINAL leader responded, “We need modernization and great institutional changes for a new European reality” when asked how to make the judiciary more independent. We are becoming Hungary, Mr. Mitsotakis.

KKE leader Koutsoubas remarked, “We never said that Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Mitsotakis were the same, or Syriza and ND, and all the rest of the parties. They share aims and programs. In this approach and based on these programs, we have indicated we would neither accept or support such a government.”

Greek Solution leader Kyriakos Velopoulos declared that incarcerated former MP Ilias Kasidiaris, the leader of a neo-Nazi group, had a right to vote under the Constitution.

“Political leaders cannot block anyone who wants to go to elections and then allow him, while governing, to make statements from jail. Only the Greek people can elect.”

After the loan memoranda, MeRA25 head Yanis Varoufakis called Greece “Swiss cheese” since the state does not verify the tax service and the digital minister does not have access to its software.

“Do you know any other country in which a Superfund is controlled by foreign lenders?” he said, referring to Greece’s national investment fund. Instead of public service supervisors, he advocated consultative councils with voters and lottery winners.

He suggested an FBI-like body for huge commercial and political criminality and questioned the prime minister why he did not form an investigating committee on his 2015 EU negotiations. “Why did you hesitate, Mr. Mitsotakis?”

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