The marginal Independent Greeks party that is opposed to the terms of two bailouts given Greece lost two of its Members of Parliament who said on March 26 they were quitting.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis, Chryssoula Maria Giatagana, a deputy representing the northern port city of Thessaloniki, and Constantinos Giovanopoulos, a deputy representing the prefecture of Imathia, northern Greece, announced their decision to go independent.
Led by Panos Kammenos, the Independent Greeks party currently holds 15 seats in Parliament. Formerly with New Democracy, he has railed against the austerity measures imposed by the government but has little influence and has often clashed with New Democracy leaders. He later said that the departure of two lawmakers from his anti-austerity party was because of pressure, although he didn’t identify the source.
“The pressure that is being placed on some of us knows no boundaries,” he said. “Whoever can stand the pressure remains in the boat, whoever can’t quits.” Gaitagana and Giovanopoulos said they were quitting the right-wing part, complaining that they were made to feel unwelcome.
“When even your presence becomes annoying, when your ideas do not inspire, when your initiatives are neutered, then you just depart,” the two deputies said in a joint statement, which did not give details about what they will do next.
The two lawmakers are set to continue as independents and indicated they remain committed to opposing Greece’s bailout agreement with the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB.)
In January, Parliament voted against lifting his immunity, following a prosecutor’s request with regard to two defamation suits filed against him by Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis and SKAI journalist Aris Portosalte.
In December, 2013 the House had voted in favor of lifting Kammenos’s immunity, for incitement to violence after being captured on camera in September suggesting that Halkidiki residents, in northern Greece, “lynch” a local mayor for throwing his support behind a controversial gold-mining project near the village of Skouries.
In January, the party had to hold emergency talks after six of the then-18 lawmakers didn’t even show up for its national council and prompted calls for him to take disciplinary measures. “We are still in kindergarten and you cannot impose punishment,” said Independent Greeks lawmaker Pavlos Haikalis, an actor. “Until we find our feet, we will have problems.”