Greece: Waiting for the government

Perhaps in a few days? Or sooner?

Questions:

1. Will the coalition will be formed quickly or not, and why?

2. What kind of approach towards Europe can we expect from a new coalition? Perhaps an effort to modify MoU?

Answers:

Alexander KazamiasSenior Lecturer in Politics, Coventry University

1. Although the election result will enable the formation of a New Democracy (ND) – PASOK government with a comfortable majority of 162 (out of 300) seats, it will still take a few days of wrangling for this to happen. According to press reports, Samaras would like to have the moderate left-wing DIMAR of Mr Kouvelis in such a government (17 seats), an idea that takes us back to the abortive scenarios that followed the May 6 election. Then, DIMAR refused to join a ND – PASOK government without the participation of Syriza, which categorically rejects such a prospect.

Another issue would be the person of the prime minister. With yesterday’s victory, Samaras might wish to claim the post for himself, but I believe PASOK will try to score points by proposing a technocrat instead. Despite these complications, I believe it is most probable that we shall see a ND-led government by Wednesday. With this result, Samaras should be able to avoid dragging the country to a prolonged negotiation over the formation of a new government. If this were to happen, it would be a very bad start.

After the dramatic rise in Syriza’s popularity in the May 6 elections, the pro-Bailout parties (ND and PASOK) have modified their programmes with the implicit endorsement of the EU, and now state that they, too, are in favour of renegotiating the much-hated ‘Memorandum’. I imagine that the EU would make sure that a ND-PASOK led government is seen as having managed to do so, mainly to send the message that the Greeks should expect better from the EU with these two parties in charge that with a radical government led by Syriza.

2. The main concern of both the EU and the new ND-led government would be to survive as long as possible. With the tough austerity measures that are expected even under a renegotiated ‘Memorandum’, the popularity of ND will wane very quickly. However, as the EU considers a ND-PASOK government as the best political scenario in Greece, I suspect that it offer these parties the chance of a milder austerity programme that the current one. In addition, with Hollande’s new emphasis on releasing investment funds to the European South, some reduction of the negative growth figures should be expected in Greece – but not a return to positive growth until 2014 at the earliest. The next two years will still be gloomy and the new government –whoever is in it – will lose its support very rapidly. A revised memorandum, at best, will merely slow down this loss of popularity by a few months.

Stella Ladi, Lecturer, Panteion University

1.Yes, as it seems the coalition will be formed pretty quickly. I would expect to have its announcement even tomorrow. It’s been clear that both the majority of the people and the pro-European parties agree on the necessity to have a government as soon as possible.

2.I think the approach of the coalition as we can see from the statements of the political leaders up to now will be to continue with the Memoranda and with the aggreement that we’ve had up to now but also to try to improve some of their aspects that don’t seem to work. For example, to combine development with austerity measures. They will negotatiate with Europe but I think they realise that they cannot change the core of the Memoranda.

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