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Greek leftists submit censure motion over government handling of snowstorms

Greek leftists submit censure motion over government  handling of snowstorms
Greek leftists submit censure motion over government handling of snowstorms Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
Published on Updated
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ATHENS - Greece's main leftist opposition has submitted a motion of no-confidence against the conservative government over its handling of severe snowstorms which left hundreds of people stranded for days on a major highway.

With 157 lawmakers, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis enjoys a comfortable majority in the 300-seat parliament and his government is expected to survive the vote on Sunday following a two-day debate.

But the government has faced widespread public anger over authorities' unpreparedness to handle the rare weather conditions despite warnings from meteorologists.

Mitsotakis said on Wednesday that responsibility lay with the private operator of the highway, which is the main ringroad around Athens, but he also apologised for the state's lack of coordination.

The cold snap which hit Greece on Monday brought transport in Athens to a halt and left thousands of households without power. The Greek capital was covered in snow from the Acropolis hill to the coast in the south.

As rescue crews worked to evacuate cars and drivers from the Attiki Odos highway on Monday, the government was forced to shut public services and schools for two days.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist Syriza party, said the government had failed in its duty to protect the country.

"It left thousands of people at the mercy of the bad weather, with roads shut, without power even until now," Tsipras told parliament.

The government said the debate would be an opportunity for a thorough discussion of the situation, and dismissed the opposition move as an attempt to attract public attention.

Recent polls conducted before the snowstorms showed the conservatives leading by more than 10 points over the leftists but they also suggested the government's image had been hurt by its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and higher prices.

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