On Tuesday afternoon, Greek opposition parties tabled a vote of no confidence against the government of New Democracy (ND) in the plenary session of the Greek Parliament. The move comes after revelations over the weekend by the Greek newspaper To Vima (To BHMA) that recordings of the Tempi train disaster had been tampered with.

The motion was submitted by the president of PASOK, Nikos Androulakis, following consultations with other opposition parties, and its content had leaked a little earlier. In addition to PASOK MPs, the proposal was co-signed by those of SYRIZA, New Democracy, and Course of Freedom.

Among other things, Androulakis stated from the podium of the Parliament: “Today, I am taking a critical institutional initiative because the ND government has made a habit of systematically undermining the rule of law. In a series of scandals, we see the same pattern. Corruption, cover-up, impunity. In every scandal, your political choice is to hide the truth instead of choosing the path of truth.”

The Backdrop

The news comes among growing accusations by opposition parties and the general public of a government cover-up over the causes of the disaster and anger over what is perceived to be slow and uneven progress by the Greek justice system.

In an interview a few weeks ago, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said investigations around the crash are proceeding at pace and dismissed allegations of a cover-up.

At the time, the Prime Minister was responding to allegations that the government was trying to hide the existence of toxic substances that caused an explosion upon the collision’s impact was taking place, and also around the fact that the crash site was bulldozed quickly after the event.

Connected to claims that the Greek government is “protecting its own” and failing to hold politicians accountable for the disaster, a report by Politico in January of this year stated that the Greek government ignored calls by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) to take action against two former transport ministers for their potential criminal liability in the fatal Tempi train crash.

The Motion

Reports at To BHMA say that opposition party PASOK will table the motion today at noontime, along with the support of SYRIZA, in order to reach the minimum number of 50 votes, which are necessary to make such a motion, as defined by the Greek Constitution.

Once tabled, a three-day debate will ensue and all of Parliament’s activities will be suspended. According to To BHMA, the New Democracy government retains the right to start the three-day debate immediately, or to wait two days after the “no confidence” motion is put to Parliament.

Moreover, New Democracy may turn the “no confidence” vote into a “vote of confidence” and may indeed do so, if the government feels it can secure at least 120 votes.

Considering that the ruling party has a majority in Parliament with 158 Members, analysts do not exclude the possibility of New Democracy seeking a “vote of confidence”.

Fifty-seven people, mostly youth returning home and to universities after a holiday weekend, perished in the rail disaster caused when a passenger train and a freight train collided head-on halfway between the municipalities of Tempi and Evangelismos in Thessaly, central Greece, just before midnight on Feb. 28, 2023.