The center-right Greek government on Thursday passed a draft bill with criminal code revisions stipulating stricter sentences for a variety of felonies and misdemeanors, as well as measures to speed up court trials.

Only deputies from the ruling New Democracy (ND) approved the bill, which passed by majority vote, whereas MPs of all the opposition parties voted against.

Debate in Parliament was often acrimonious in the preceding two days.

In defending the draft bill and the government’s desire to stiffen fines and sentences, Justice Minister Giorgos Floridis said the intent is to “reduce a feeling (on the part of citizens) of impunity, to guarantee that the actual sentence is served, to fight crime and to reinforce the rendering of justice with a fairer, higher quality and more efficient system.”

Among others, Floridis said the offense of bribery by legal entities (companies, firms etc.) is ushered into the Greek penal code for the first time, while strict fines – reaching up to four million euros – are envisioned for office-holders convicted of bribery.

Conversely, the opposition, especially on the left, claimed that stricter sentencing guidelines do not fight crime, as the government claimed, while also saying Floridis and his ministry ignored scholarly work on the subject of correctional policy and will “violate” the rights of defendants with the legislation.

Reversing the leftist SYRIZA government’s (2015-19) more lenient sentences for certain crimes, as well as its downgrading of a bevy of offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, was one of the main pledges of ND before the 2019 election, which the party won.

The conservative ruling party and incumbent Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated the same “law and order” plank ahead of the twin 2023 general elections.

Concerns over rising crime and perceived impunity towards offenders has been among the most prominent findings in successive opinion polls over the years.