Posted by Sappho on May 14th, 2012 filed in Greek News
But first, before I give you today in Greek politics, a lighter note: one of my Greek cousins sent me, on Saturday, a link to this beautiful video of an osprey catching fish.
Now for today in Greek politics: If you were to range the Greek parties that made it into Parliament from right to left, they might go: Golden Dawn, the Independent Greeks, ND, PASOK, the Democratic Left, SYRIZA, KKE. And, as the parties gear up for the almost certain second round of elections, probably to come in June, the bitterest feuds seem to be between parties next to each other on this spectrum. In particular, SYRIZA and the Democratic Left, which days ago were talking about forming a government together, are now deeply at odds.
In theory, SYRIZA and the Democratic Left want the same thing: to reject the austerity measures and stay in the EU and the euro zone. (The Independent Greeks also support this course.) The KKE stands alone in wanting to leave the euro zone. ND and PASOK have already committed themselves to austerity measures to keep Greece in the euro zone and getting EU/IMF loans, and, given that Golden Dawn wants to put landmines on the border to keep immigrants out, I tend to consider its economic positions moot.
In practice, the Democratic Left has always been more moderate in its opposition to austerity measures than SYRIZA, so, when invited by Papoulias to join a unity government with ND and PASOK,
PASOK, New Democracy and Democratic Left agreed last week on a government that would last until 2014 and be committed to keeping the country in the euro region and renegotiating bailout conditions from the International Monetary Fund and European Union to boost growth. SYRIZA’s Tsipras turned down the approach on May 11 as the first opinion polls since the elections showed he was gaining in support.
Democratic Left has said that SYRIZA, the second-biggest party, must be part of its proposed unity government, or give it tacit support at least, if the government is to succeed in its task. The position has been adopted by PASOK and New Democracy.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras says hell no, he won’t join this unity government; he would be betraying the people who voted for him if he signed onto tolerating the austerity measures any longer. In particular, SYRIZA is on record as resisting both Merkel’s version of structural reforms
We are calling for
Well-paid, well-regulated and insured employment.
Immediate reconstitution of the minimum wage and of real wages within three years.
Immediate reconstitution of collective labor agreements.
Instigation of powerful control mechanisms that will protect employment.
Systematic confrontation of lay-offs and labour relations deregulation.
and cuts that affect education, health care, and social welfare.
Mathematically, ND, PASOK, and the Democratic Left can form a government by themselves, so SYRIZA says go ahead without us if you want, but don’t expect our complicity. In response, the Democratic Left now says that if Greece goes to a second round of elections (in which SYRIZA is expected to gain more votes), it may not cooperate with SYRIZA in forming a government. Since SYRIZA isn’t likely to gain enough votes in a second round to have a clear majority, and since the KKE refuses to join a coalition with anyone, the Democratic Left presumably hopes in this way to pressure SYRIZA to join the proposed unity government.
Speaking on Real FM radio station, Kouvelis, criticized second-placed SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras for failing to agree to the formation of a unity government with first-placed New Democracy and third-placed PASOK, in which Democratic Left also said it would participate, arguing that SYRIZA’s absence from such a coalition government would render it too weak to have any real decision-making power.
Meanwhile, the Independent Greeks are said to refuse to join a government with ND. I gather that Golden Dawn is uninterested in forming a coalition with anyone, but then, I gather that feeling is mutual, and no one wants to form a coalition with Golden Dawn.
Here is a post on the situation from a Greek blogger sympathetic with SYRIZA.