Greece went to the polls last weekend for the second time in six weeks. This time however the New Democracy Party won a majority and its leader quickly began trying to forge a coalition government.
The New Democracy majority may have been small but with willing political partners it is expected to be enough to form a workable government. Today June 20, 2012, Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party, will be sworn in as prime minister. At time of writing the Greek coalition talks were ongoing but reportedly close to a finalised deal.
The people of Greece need a government but whether a coalition can bring stability to Greece is not known. Their debt crisis continues and too many people in Greece are suffering. As they struggle on in poverty tax dodgers and system abusers in the country prosper. These two issues will need urgently addressing by the new government.
The Markets around the world are still faltering as Greece forms its new parliament. There was no huge surge in the markets on the back of the Greek election, as the situation remains unstable. Angela Merkel the German Chancellor and leading light in Europe right now, has made it plain that the Greek bailout will not be renegotiated.
Yesterday President Obama speaking, as the G20 summit in Mexico drew to a close, said that Europe knows what it has to do. The talk is of leaders having to make tough choices and decisions. Of course those tough choices rarely affect those who make the decisions. It is easy to play politics when it is someone else who will experience a massive drop in income, or the loss of a home, for example.
President Obama should also publicly acknowledge that Europe's financial woes stem in so many ways from the USA.
Samaras is meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias prior to being sworn in as Prime Minster. Updates will follow....
Latest: Samaras has been sworn in as PM. "The ceremony came shortly after he agreed a coalition government with the Socialists (Pasok) and the smaller leftist party, the Democratic Left. Mr Samaras took the oath at a Greek Orthodox ceremony in Athens."
The second Greek Election in just six weeks is over. In reality though it is far from over. The winner by a majority was the New Democracy Party with 29.7% of the vote. It secured 129/300 seats. Hardly a resounding vote of confidence from the people. Enough however to form a government if they can find a political party willing to do business with them.
The Greek Parliament and the people now face many challenges. First and foremost of course is forming a government and quick. Political vacuums are bad news. They can lead to military coups and revolutions.
Who the NDP choose or rather who is prepared to play ball could also impact on the Greek people. Second place in the election was won by the Syriza Party who took 26.9% of the vote and secured 71/300 seats. Such a close run race means that plenty of people will be happy with a New Democracy coalition, but many will not.
The New Democracy is a right wing party. If it works with the Pasok socialist party to form a coalition it may not work. However both of these parties are pro the EU bailout. In times like these political allies may come from opposing ideals. What is being seen as the most important factor is who is pro and who is anti the bailout.
Syriza is anti bailout. This party will be hard to ignore in any new parliament. With such a large number of seats and votes it will have a voice in government. This could mean that it will have power to wield.
Merkel in Germany and Obama in the US are happy that the New Democracy Party has won the majority. They of course do not have to live in Greece under the austerity measures previously agreed. It is fair to say that all Europeans leaders will be happy with the initial outcome of the Greek Elections. The money men and women who manipulate our lives have already expressed their pleasure. How so? By boosting the stock markets.
There is however still a long way to go.
All Antonis Samaras won in effect was the right to be first to hold coalition talks. If the Pasok Party teams up with Samaras it will be a similar situation to the UK. That is a coalition made up of the first and third place in the people's vote. Hardly the people's choice.
Both the Pasok and the New Democracy Party have governed Greece for many years. Both are therefore blamed by many for the economic crisis Greece is facing. Syriza being a fresh new party has said that it will not join forces with others to form a coalition.
No such moral stand point by the old guard.
Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos has already come up with a novel suggestion. He has proposed politicians forget the usual procedure and go for a four-party coalition between New Democracy, Syriza, PASOK and Democratic Left.
It is worth noting that anti bailout political parties saw their share of the second vote in Greece increase from six-weeks ago. The Neo Nazi Party Golden Dawn had its share of the vote reduced compared to the earlier election.
Europe may have breathed a sigh of relief but now it is holding its breath as it waits to see if forming a Greek government is possible. Germany has already warned Greece that the bailout is not open for re-negotiation.
2009 Greek Strike
The Greek economy has been in free-fall for some time. Much as the government of the country plans austerity measures and cuts the people will not play ball. Watching an interview with a Greek person it was easy to see what part of the problem is. As the man told the media “Greek people live for today and care not for the future“. He seemed pretty sure that sooner or later the Greeks will default on paying back EU loans.
If he can see all of this why can’t EU leaders such as Angela Merkel and others?
Well in truth they will be able to see reality but for various reasons choose to ignore it. Such is the EU that each country has become intertwined. So much so that such a thing as a bad economy in one country could cause many countries to fall. The dreaded Domino effect.
Yet it must be close to the time when EU countries decide enough is enough. If countries such as the UK are enforcing stringent measures on their people why should it be possible for the Greeks to ignore such measures themselves?. If they were not reliant on EU countries for a bail-out fair enough but fancy expecting people who have had their salaries and future prospects cut to bail-out those who will not accept such changes.When you visit Greece the people are warm and friendly but like it or not they will have to experience changes.
Today, October 18, 2011 the head of the huge Public Sector Union in Greece has aired his views. Costas Tsikrikas, head of the 500,000-strong ADEDY union
said that Greece is set to fall into a "death spiral" if more cuts and restrictions are put in place. He accused George Papandreou's Socialist government of blindly falling destructive plans. Coasts said that such strict measures would ultimately plunge Greece into a deeper recession and set them on a downward spiral to more debt and despair.
Urging those who have the power to vote against these measures Mr Tsikrikas said, “This will exacerbate recession, unemployment and state revenues will continue to fall, creating a death spiral. It must not continue. The government has to call on the rich to contribute. Workers look more like squeezed lemons now, they can't take it anymore. The state must take the money from those who have the income to pay the taxes. The rich, the big companies that use the workforce of this country. Don't they owe the country and its people something? People are right to want justice, the burden equally shared, a just tax system and a crackdown on tax evasion."
As some of the poorer paid public sector workers face what in effect is a 40% pay cut it seems obvious that such cuts must include everyone and be fair to all Greeks.
Greece faces a 48 hour strike which has been scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday, October 19 and 20, 2011. The timing is to coincide with the Greek government’s vote on the latest austerity measures. Already today, Tuesday October 18 railway workers and journalists, joined ferry crews, garbage collectors, tax officials and lawyers in the planned action.
For many the big question is can the Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, cling to power let alone ensure the package of austerity measures are passed?