This is a scene from the backbenches of the Greek parliament, where the government yesterday evening failed in his first attempt to have its candidate for state president elected, in a process that will likely go to another two rounds and, as is looking increasingly likely, to national elections.
The government managed to muster a mere 160 votes, twenty short of the 180 it will need to see Stavros Dimas, its presidential hopeful, ensconced in the state’s highest office. Only five MPs from outside the two coalition parties supported Dimas in the first round of voting, including independent MPs Grigoris Psarianos, Spyros Lykoudis and Christos Aidonis, who decided that the responsible thing to do for the country at this juncture was to vote with the government and prevent snap elections.
Ahead of the vote, one would think that the gravity of the situation facing the country would be playing on the minds of all MPs, especially Psarianos (a former Syriza (2007-10) and Democratic Left (2010-14) MP, now independent), Lykoudis (elected with Democratic Left in 2012, now independent and head of a new party called the Reformers) and Aidonis (elected with Pasok in 2012, independent since 2013), who, after all, are presented as paragons of responsibility who have the country’s best interests at heart, leading the way for others to follow.
But minutes before the vote, a roll-call procedure which got underway shortly after 7pm, Psarianos had other things on his mind. In this image, taken at 6.59pm, we apparently see him sniffing – yes, sniffing! – the coat of a female colleague, independent deputy Rachel Makri (who can be seen in the centre of the photo below), who had taken her seat two benches down shortly beforehand.
Holding the jacket is novelist Petros Tatsopoulos, an independent MP who was elected on a Syriza ticket in 2012, who is clearly amused. Sitting in front of Psarianos is Lykoudis. On his left is Aidonis, bursting into laughter. Joining in on the fun from across the aisle is Markos Bolaris, an independent MP who was expelled from Pasok in November 2012.
Like schoolboys in the back row of the classroom, they probably thought no one would notice, despite the intense media focus on the proceedings. But a group of men in the 50s and 60s getting a kick out of smelling an item of clothing belonging to a younger female colleague is anything but responsible parliamentary behaviour.
It’s hard to know what Psarianos was up to. Only he could tells us. As a passionate wearer of angler jackets, even in the parliamentary chamber, perhaps he’s afflicted with some kind of jacket-envy, given that he’s not that particularly well-endowed when it comes to that item of clothing.