Athens Digest 03.05.2018

• After Conservatives, Socialists aslo back early election, say voters should pick post-bailout plan

• Syriza MEP Papadimoulis criticizes EU budget Commission’s proposals. “Great chance for Greece”, says the opposition

• It is raining… appeals in Hellenikon

• Government promises to axe number of migrants on islands

# Socialist leader Fofi Gennimata has called for an early general election, arguing that voters should have a say in shaping the country’s post-bailout future. The leader of the Movement for Change (former Pasok) also demanded a parliamentary debate on the course of Athens’ current negotiations with creditors, arguing that the Tsipras government lacked a comprehensive post-bailout strategy. Conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has also recently renewed his call for an early poll, while the government publicly maintains it will see out its full term that ends in the autumn of 2019.

# Commission’s proposal on the EU budget has been welcomed only by the Greek Conservatives so far. The VP of the European Parliament, Syriza MEP, Dimitris Papadimoulis tweeted that the proposal “not only provides less funds, but it also shares them wrong”. On the other hand, New Democracy spokesperson, EPP MEP, Maria Spiraki claimed that the budget plan is a great chance and also a big challenge for Greece.

# Athens’ delayed coastal development project at Hellenikon is facing another –third within a few days- setback after a residents group filed a class action lawsuit against the venture that is worth EUR 8 billion. A group of residents from surrounding municipalities launched the legal challenge against the approval of an integrated development plan for the project.

# The government has promised to hire hundreds of additional support staff on Greek islands to reduce the number of migrants and refugees stranded there by more than half before the end of September. Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas traveled to Lesvos and said despite the recent increase in daily arrivals, numbers could be cut from the current 15,500 to the normal camp capacity of 6,500 on Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros. Protests over migrant-camp overcrowding and high sales taxes are planned on Lesvos today as Prime Minister Tsipras is due to visit the island.

On our Radar: Syriza in open confrontation with shipowner Marinakis
In an escalating public confrontation, the prime minister’s office accused businessman Vangelis Marinakis of forging a “dark alliance” with the opposition conservatives to try and stop a potential re-election victory of the left-wing Syriza party. A statement from PM office said the 50-year-old shipowner and media-and-football tycoon was attempting to revive “a degenerate version of the old political system of oligarchy, graft, and clientelism.” A day earlier, Marinakis had described the attacks against him as having “crossed the line” and accused the Tsipras government of building a false anti-corruption narrative to try and recover lost popular support. Marinakis denied having any connection with opposition leader Mitsotakis, insisting he had met several times with Tsipras. New Democracy urged the government to respond to the claims.