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Greek MP expelled from party after argument at airport over late flight

Simon Calder’s Travel

Greece‘s governing center-right party has removed a lawmaker and former minister who allegedly manhandled an airport worker who wouldn’t let him board a domestic flight he’d turned up late for.

Lefteris Avgenakis, who has held the sports and agriculture portfolios, apologised over the incident earlier this month at Athens International Airport.

He denied using physical violence against the employee, saying there had been only “verbal tension.”

Footage on social media from an overhead video purportedly showed Avgenakis, a lawmaker with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party, trying to snatch the employee’s phone during the altercation.

He said he did that because he wanted to speak to the worker’s supervisors “in a last effort” to get on the flight, which he missed.

Parliament Speaker Constantinos Tassoulas imposed a two-week ban on Avgenakis attending legislative sessions, calling his behavior at he airport “unacceptable.”

“I’m aware that (Avgenakis) has apologized publicly, but I cannot accept the apology,” Tassoulas said.

Avgenakis represents a constituency on the southern island of Crete.

He indicated Wednesday that he would stay on as an independent lawmaker and would not resign his seat.

Following his eviction, New Democracy will have 157 lawmakers in the 300-seat house.

Last month Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweaked his Cabinet with a focus on cost-of-living and labor policies after his center-right party’s victory in Europe’s parliamentary elections.

Despite a recent dip in inflation, polls consistently show most Greeks’ top concern is cost of living since the pandemic and Russia’s war on Ukraine contributed to rising prices in the southern European country.

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy party easily came first in the June 9 European parliamentary elections, gaining 28.3% of the vote — nearly twice the left-wing main opposition Syriza party’s 14.9%.

Mitsotakis swept to power in 2019, following more than four years of government by Syriza during the country’s financial crisis, and was reelected in a landslide victory in summer 2023.

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