Syriza to discipline MP Polakis, sideline him from election battle
Syriza MP and former minister Pavlos Polakis will face a disciplinary commission over a series of explosive remarks posted on social media, including a post that called out specific judges, journalists and bankers with apparent threatening intent.
The main opposition party’s Executive Bureau decided unanimously Tuesday evening to send the case to the disciplinary commission and proposed that the voluble MP not be included in the candidates’ lists for the next general election, expected to take place in April.
Earlier Tuesday, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, speaking on a forum on health, said that he had taken the decision to discipline Polakis, once a close ally, adding that “I had to protect my party.”
“The decision of the President…to refer comrade Pavlos Polakis to the Commission, following the crisis caused by his recent postings on social media, was correct and necessary,” said a statement released by the Executive Bureau after its meeting.
“(Polakis) will be judged (by the Commission) calmly and justly, as befits a democratic party that is governed by rules and principles. The priority of all party cadre ahead of the decisive (electoral) battle, is to protect the party from the rival’s toxicity and distortions. But victory demands of all of us fighting on the frontline, political trust and unity. It demands clear statements and clear positions. Collective ones. It demands to put the collective above the personal. And it demands not to provide openings for our rivals in these crucial times. Ultimatums are inconceivable in our collective action. Disputing our collective will to clash with the shadow state and the policy of social plunder implemented by the Mitsotakis regime. With this in mind, the Executive Bureau unanimously proposes to the party’s Political Secretariat, which will meet Thursday, the non-participation of comrade Pavlos Polakis on the party’s candidate lists in the upcoming crucial election,” the statement adds.
The statement also adds it will oppose any attempt by judges to pursue Polakis under any pretense of breaking the law.
Before unloading on the 13-justice panel from the country’s two high courts, the Supreme Court and the Council of State, that handed a 2-year suspended sentence to Syriza MP and ex-minister Nikos Pappas for manipulating a TV license auction, Polakis had turned on his own party for not including one of his friends on the list of candidates for his own multi-member constituency of Chania, on the island of Crete. Polakis had then threatened not to be a candidate himself; this is the “ultimatum” referred to in the Executive Bureau’s statement.
Facing backlash for the statement about the candidacy, Polakis had seemingly backed off, only to come back with the fiery statement on judges, journalists and bankers.
Over the years, Polakis, a surgeon, had made several statements and appearances that pushed the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Tsipras, who appeared alternatively amused and bemused by his colleague’s outbursts, had attributed them publicly to his “acerbic” character. Tsipras’ opponents accused him of abetting this behavior by not reigning it in. It is true that Polakis’ coarse persona, real or affected, appealed to a certain segment of Syriza supporters that like his robust attacks on opponents and of “telling it like it is.” And many have taken to social media to oppose the disciplinary action. But Tsipras apparently has come to view his colleague as a liability to the party’s chances of reclaiming power.