Greek government seeks new confidence vote in parliament

Athens (AFP) –


Greece's government on Monday called for a parliamentary confidence vote -- the second this year -- after the opposition sought to censure one of its junior ministers.

"On behalf of the prime minister, I call on the chamber... to begin a procedure on a vote of confidence," deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis said in parliament.

Earlier, the main opposition New Democracy party had sought to censure deputy health minister Pavlos Polakis over comments he had made about one of its European parliament candidates, a former star student with spinal muscular atrophy.

Trailing in the polls, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to galvanise his leftist Syriza party ahead of European and local elections this month, and national elections scheduled in the autumn.

Polakis last month drew fire after saying it was "shameful" that the New Democracy candidate -- 34-year-old psychiatrist Stelios Kybouropoulos -- had legally used a disability quota to find a job at a state hospital.

"Anywhere else in the civilised world, (a censure motion) would not be necessary as this particular politician would have gone home... he's not fit to be minister," said conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

"To insult one of life's heroes is cowardly," Mitsotakis said.

Tsipras can count on 152 votes in the 300-seat chamber, enough to carry the motion. He had also survived a confidence motion in January.

The vote is expected to be held on Friday.