An editorial in Ta Nea newspaper written by Deputy Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis criticizing the far-leftist attitudes of some cabinet members has caused an uproar within the SYRIZA-led government.
The invasion by anarchists in the courtyard of the Greek Parliament and the repeated sit-ins in universities and other public buildings prompted the minister to write the editorial in which he uses some very caustic phrases and words in criticizing the leftist government for its ambiguous stance on major issues such as civil rights and public order.
Panousis wrote that “we don’t need a government that is the left of nothing… a leftist government doesn’t mean an anarchist has the right to burn a policeman.” He also indirectly accused the SYRIZA cabinet of doing nothing except compete with each other over who is more leftist, or wasting their energy on meaningless slogans. He also said we shouldn’t confuse democracy with lawlessness.
Panousis’ comments generated a strong reaction from SYRIZA members. The party’s parliamentary representative Nikos Filis commented on Panousis in a statement saying that the minister’s work is to secure public order and protect the citizens, not to comment on events. “We are not the left of nothing… the comment was not addressed to the government.”
Parliament Vice President Yiannis Balafas said, “I wouldn’t write something like that… Mr. Panousis has followed a low profile policy on the particular events.” SYRIZA MP Vasilis Diamantopoulos wrote on twitter that the minister cannot apply his personal politics. MP Rachel Makri said on ANT1 television that Panousis is a minister and not a commentator and that he owes an apology to certain people.
Education Minister Aristides Baltas said that he agrees with the editorial stating that, “(universities) are places of knowledge, research, and free expression of ideas; people should go in there to work…. each government body has its own responsibilities.”
Finally, SYRIZA MP Theodora Tzakri said on Mega television that she agrees with the minister’s statements. “Mr. Panousis stated the obvious, in my opinion.”