Greece's main opposition party to abstain from votes in parliament

Vote on censure motion in Greek parliament in Athens
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks with members of his government and other lawmakers during a parliamentary debate on a motion of censure against the government, in Athens, Greece, January 27, 2023. REUTERS/Louiza Vradi/File Photo

ATHENS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Greece's main opposition Syriza party said on Tuesday it would abstain from any parliamentary votes until a national election is held, in protest over the conservative government's handling of a phone tapping scandal.

Alexis Tsipras, the firebrand leader of the leftist party, announced his decision days after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis survived a no confidence vote in parliament over the case, which is still under investigation by prosecutors.

"From now on we will abstain from any vote in parliament," Tsipras told reporters, calling on opposition parties and labour unions to take action and adding that the vote of confidence was now up to the Greek people.

Mitsotakis has denied any involvement in the case and has said that an election will be held in the spring. He controls 156 deputies in the 300-seat house, so Syriza's move is not expected to affect the government's legislative initiative.

The phone tapping case emerged in August, when the leader of the Socialist party said that Greece's intelligence service EYP had listened to his conversations in 2021.

Syriza submitted the censure motion against the government last week and Tsipras, prime minister from 2015 to 2019, told parliament the surveillance involved politicians, journalists and security officials.

On Tuesday, Tsipras said Mitsotakis had failed to provide answers in parliament on the matter and that the leftist opposition would not legalise the work of a "fallen" government.

The government accused Syriza of "blackmail," while the Socialist PASOK party, the third-largest group in the Greek parliament, responded that Syriza's stance was irresponsible.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Paul Simao

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