Greek politician, Aristotelis Pavlidis, avoided indictment on bribery charges when a vote in Parliament came up short.
Parliament voted 146-144 in favor of indicting Pavlidis on charges in the alleged bribery of a ferryboat line operator, five votes shy of the 151 absolute majority required for the former minister to face a special court over the bribery scandal.
Ruling New Democracy deputies followed the party line and supported their fellow MP but a number of blank votes showed cracks in the government’s solidarity.
Five blank ballots and three “present” votes were cast. Two of the Parliament’s 300 members didn’t take part in the secret ballot.
The results of the vote means that the government will not be forced into calling early elections and Greeks will vote only in the European Parliamentary poll on June 7.
“The Hellenic Parliament has voted. The MPs did their duty in voting by conscience, in accordance with the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament,” government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, shortly after the 300-member House voted against the indictment of former minister.
The PanHellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) insisted that the result was a defeat for the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, drawing attention to the fact that Pavlidis did not have the confidence of the majority of the House.
In a sharp attack on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his government, opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou termed the vote in Parliament a “major defeat” for the ruling party.
Addressing PASOK’s Political Council, Papandreou said that the Prime Minister was personally responsible for the outcome.
“The prime minister and his government, through their stance, are completely hostage to the interests that they serve,” he stressed.
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos told his party’s MPs that the evidence uncovered in the Pavlidis case did not allow the file to be closed and that the prosecution against him must go ahead.
SYRIZA’s leader described the prevailing political climate as corrupt, adding that judges are engaging in politics while politicians are acting as judges.