The European Parliament on Tuesday fired the Greek parliamentarian Eva Kaili from the position of vice-president, who has to answer in court for serious allegations of corruption. How does the Greek public view the scandal?
Reactions are divided. There are Greeks who see it as a classic EU corruption scandal rocking Brussels. They believe that this has to do with the lack of legitimacy of European institutions and the existence of illegal lobbyists. Others focus on the fact that Kaili is Greek and a member of the social democratic Pasok party, which has been embroiled in scandals in the past.
Dimitris Christopoulos is a professor and dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences of the Panteion University of Athens.
Do the revelations about Kyle strengthen Euroscepticism among some Greeks?
Yes and no. Some believe this confirms their skepticism. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hit back on Tuesday with malicious tweets.
For others, the focus is on the positive, namely that there are prosecutors in Brussels who are doing their job and doing what is necessary to maintain law, security and order. That the rule of law works here in Brussels – unlike in Greece, where we have our own scandal and the courts do not do much.
You mean the wiretapping scandal…
Exactly. Greece has been plagued by this incredible story since August. The Greek security services appear to have been crushed. Pasok leader and MEP Nikos Androulakis, like some journalists, were misled.
There are always new discoveries. It appears to be the tip of the iceberg: the widespread practice of illegal spyware use initiated and implemented by the Greek state. In my opinion, this is the biggest scandal since the founding of the Hellenic Republic in 1974.
Picture this: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has created a system to annoy his staff in parliament and government. The fur thing pales in comparison.
Kaili was already a prominent figure in Greece before becoming an MEP. She was a newsreader and member of the Greek Parliament. She was unchallenged, partly because of her ties to Greek and Russian oligarchs. How are they viewed by Greek society?
Kaili is a good looking woman who did it. This is very important now that you see derogatory and reactionary comments about her. Some public reactions simply have to be described as sexist.
Politically, Kaili was somewhat unpredictable: she belonged to the extreme right wing of Pasok and always wanted to work closely with the conservative New Democracy Party. Although Kaili is a famous person in Greece, she was never taken very seriously by the public.
Pasok expelled Kaili on December 9. What does this scandal mean for Greece’s social democrats, who have been weakened for years and are currently trying to enter the spring 2023 elections with renewed vigor?
This is a big problem for the party. On the one hand, Kailis was never taken seriously as a politician. I don’t remember her saying anything significant. On the other hand, she was one of the most prominent figures in the party. This was strange given that Kaili was closer to the conservative European People’s Party in the European Parliament than to her own group. She was more of a nominal social democrat.
Have you considered removing Kyle from the party before?
This is a very good question. But the answer is no – although there have been several opportunities to do so in recent years. However, Pasok is currently a very weak party and has lost the self-confidence it had 10, 15 years ago.
How do you assess the damage caused by the Brussels corruption scandal…