What happened in the morning of #7ngr in the Greek Parliament

(By @doleross, translated from Greek)
When discussions over the draft law on the new austerity measures (Memorandum III) started in the Greek Parliament this morning, Syriza and Independent Greeks questioned the compatibility of thedraft law with the Constitution. According to the rapporteurs of the two parties, paragraphs on salary and pension cuts were unconstitutional, and so was the way the draft law came to discussion in Parliament: that is the emergency procedure which limits discussion time to 10 hours, even though many members of the Parliament only received the final, very long text of the law, on the same morning.

The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Evaggelos Meimarakis, asked those Members of Parliament who were present to stand up if they agreed with the unconstitutionality objection. As he judged that those standing up were fewer than those who remained seated, he stated that the objection was rejected. MPs of Syriza and Independent Greeks strongly insisted that the objection had been approved and asked for a roll-call vote; this was accepted by the Speaker, but he suspended the session  for 30 minutes “according to parliamentary regulation”, as he said. However, parliament regulations provide for only 10 minutes suspension time.

One hour and 15 minutes later (maybe more), the session opened again and the roll-call vote started. There was much tension, as it was evident that the three parties participating in the government coalition needed this delay in order to bring in their absent members for the vote.

Alexis Tsipras called the procedure “degeneration of the Parliament” and Syriza withdrew its demand for a roll-call vote, as they judged that the result of the first vote was evidently that a majority had decided for unconstitutionality. Tsipras also said that “Parliamentary democracy and the institutions are being devastated. A draft law that will push the country into an even longer recession is coming to Parliament in a single article and with the emergency procedure; this doesn’t honor Parliament”. He also stated that on the earlier vote over constitutionality, it was very clear that the large majority was standing and therefore voted for the unconstitutionality objection. He accused the president of the Parliament of counting votes wrongly on purpose.

Government parties accused Syriza of acting tactically and seeking to impress people.

In the roll-call vote, the Memorandum and its discussion and voting procedure were finally deemed constitutional by 170 MPs, with 47 voting against. Syriza meanwhile had left the assembly.

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