Will the TV licence row topple Tsipras?
The Council of State in Greece ruled on Wednesday that the new law governing the allocation of TV broadcasting licences was unconstitutional, thus repealing the auction of TV licences organized by the Tsipras government. Some Greek commentators believe the old establisment was behind the legal proceedings against the prime minister. For others, Alexis Tsipras might as well hand in his resignation.
A victory for democracy and freedom of opinion
The decision of the Council of State is a crushing blow for Tspiras and his Syriza government, To Vima proclaims:
“After its U-turn on austerity and its disorderly retreat last summer [following the referendum] the government set about creating a new enemy: the media. They resorted to trickery to cut the number of TV licences to four and attempted to gain control of the TV landscape. Together with the other ministers Tsipras celebrated the fact that the TV station owners were locked up in one room during the auction and made to hand over 250 million euros. They used brutal mafia methods to blackmail leading judges. And now they are paying the price for their sinister machinations. The court's decision is an all-out defeat for the government and for Tsipras personally. And it is a victory for democracy, independent justice and, of course, freedom of opinion.”
The triumph of the old system
The opposition is now casting itself in the role of the people's defender, after acting against its will for years, writes a galled Efimerida ton Syntakton:
“The decision of the administrative court must be respected, but it opens up a lot of questions about the workings of justice when it comes to defending the interests of the common man. ... Tsipras was right when he said that governments are voted in and overthrown by the people, not by decisions of the courts. In any case the decision is further complicating the already complex political situation in Greece. And it is handing a weapon to those who in recent years have been demonstratively trampling all over the interests of the people. ... The errant parties, hand in hand with the errant bankers and the errant owners of TV channels, are now celebrating a victory that they prepared with meticulous precision, by presenting the perpetrators as victims.”
Tsipras' govermnent faces its Waterloo
If the law is declared unconstitutional, the government could be in real danger, warns To Vima:
“The undemocratic and unconstitutional attempts to control the media industry have turned not only the opposition but also public opinion against the government. ... The embarrassing statements and contradictory arguments issued by government officials in response to the decision of the Council of State [to review the law] show just how much of a dead-end they are in. ... The public is furious at having its hopes stirred and then dashed by Tsipras. The results of the second evaluation of the programme of reforms are still pending and the highly questionable hopes for debt relief as well as a potential defeat of the government over the issuing of TV licences could lead them into an explosive situation.”
Syriza should focus on more important matters
The Syriza government is getting bogged down in the dispute over TV licences, Protagon complains:
“Instead of governing the country and securing fair treatment for the Greek people, it is pulling out all the stops to seize total control. If it is not happy with the Council of State's decision it will no doubt do everything in its power to prevent the licensing procedure from being overturned by the TV broadcasters. … In this way it is wasting valuable time. … But the worst of it is that the party still has a tendency to want to impose central control on the state even though it is crystal clear that the scope for action lies elsewhere: in the economy, in the development of the free market, in the creation of jobs and in creative cooperation with its creditors.”