Abrupt Greek Parliament Vacation Brings Long Government Breaks into Debate

Abrupt Greek Parliament Vacation Brings Long Government Breaks into Debate

The Greek Parliament abruptly called a two-week vacation this week followed by a requisite four-month vacation during which only one third of Parliament will be around for three of the four weeks. The vacations have prompted an outcry from those who demand the government act on important matters.

Parliament officials declared a recess session this week, which would last two weeks before entering a one-month full vacation. For three months thereafter, there will be rotating vacations through which only one third of the Parliament will be in session at the time.

The declaration of recess arrived almost immediately after a spectacle unfurled on the Parliament floor as Nikos Michaloliakos, a former head of national socialist party Golden Dawn, was stripped of his criminal immunity as a legislator. “Shame on you, you pseudo-democrats, for setting up this plot against us… You have drawn up charges with your eyes on opinion polls. You are a sad minority government. You put me in prison for no reason,” Michaloliakos railed before leaving the Parliament floor.

The vacations have sparked outrage by the major opposition group, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). SYRIZA spokesman Nikos Vutsis alleged that the government was shutting down legislative operations immediately before the radical leftist party was to introduce a bill to remove legislative immunity over officials involved in 120 court proceedings. Such a bill is impossible to pass without a full quorum, which will not happen until October.

“Last year, Parliament interrupted its sessions much later – in 2012 they were not interrupted a single day,” Vutsis said. “This sudden closing is a scandal because this year the Parliamentary period was shorter due to 15 Easter days and another 15 days of interruption due to European Parliament elections,” he explained.

The party also released an official statement condemning Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. “He is indebted to the people and democracy to discuss Golden Dawn, as repeatedly requested by the leadership of SYRIZA, and as is required by the need to fight the Nazi phenomenon,” the party said in a statement, according to Greek newspaper Ta Nea.

Golden Dawn, which has been largely criminalized due to outbreaks of violence in the last few years, experienced a resurgence during the last wave of local elections, much to the chagrin of both radical leftist elements and the Greek center-right currently in power. In addition to the Golden Dawn threat, however, limited Parliament activity will result in the government’s having less time to work on economic recovery in a country struggling through crisis for most of the past decade.