The conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis overcame this Friday, January 27 a motion of censure tabled by Alexis Tsipras, the former prime minister and leader of the left-wing opposition party Syriza. This victory was expected insofar as New Democracy, the party of the head of government, enjoys a majority of 156 votes out of 300 in the Vouli, the Greek Parliament.
But for two days, the confrontation was virulent in the hemicycle, with on the front of the stage the scandal of telephone tapping, and in the background the electoral pre-campaign for the legislative elections, which must be held this spring.
A minister and army leaders spied on
This wiretapping scandal erupted last August, when the head of government was forced to admit that MEP and leader of the leftist Pasok-Final party, Nikos Androulakis, had been wiretapped by the national intelligence services (EYP). , a hack that had been detected by the European Parliament.
Since then, the list of people listened to, in particular journalists, has continued to grow. Major rebound this week when the president of the authority for the security of communications and the protection of privacy (Adae) confirmed, following an internal audit, certain names which had been put forward by journalists. Thus, among those placed under surveillance by the EYP was the current labor minister Kostis Hatzidakis when he was energy minister, as well as the army chief of staff, the head of the army, and three other defense officials. This justified the filing on January 25 of a motion of censure in Parliament.
“The situation is out of control”
How far will this list of people spied on without their knowledge go? “The situation is out of control” believes political scientist Gerassimos Moschonas, from Panteion University (Athens). “Such an amplitude of telephone tapping in a democratic country is unheard of, he adds. It is difficult to understand the logic of this espionage which targets people in the governmental sphere, without wondering about a possible paranoia of power”.
Alexis Tsipras accuses Kyriakos Mitsotakis of being the conductor of these wiretaps. The head of government denies being involved in the use of the Predator spyware and claims that this case « obscure » is located “in the hands of justice”. Who are the users of Predator spyware, intelligence services, private agencies, both connected, and at whose request? Many questions remain.
A scandal that casts little shadow on the government
The Minister of Labor himself remains in solidarity with the executive. If he claims that “those responsible for all this inadmissible machination must be held accountable”, as the daily reports Kathimerinihe castigates the opposition which is, according to him, only motivated by the desire to harm the government politically.
However, it is clear that this scandal with twists and turns, which has been splattering the power for six months, has so far only overshadowed it relatively little. A few weeks before a legislative election, which could be held on April 9 or in any case before the summer, New Democracy is in a good position to win the election. The polls give him a six-point lead over Syriza.
Since its ousting from power in 2019, the left-wing party has struggled to regain its health in the opposition. “Kyriakos Mitsotakis offers a more reassuring image in the face of recurring threats from neighboring Turkey, fait valoir Gerassimos Moschonas. And the resumption of growth and state aid to companies and employees during the health crisis, after years of severe austerity, have been particularly appreciated. » And relegate to the background of concerns these attacks on the rule of law.