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By Chris Marsden:
Conservatives narrowly win Greek election
18 June 2012
New Democracy won 30 percent of the vote. SYRIZA came in a close second with 26.5 percent, winning popular support based on its criticisms of austerity measures set forth in the Memorandum signed with the Troika—the European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB).
This sets the stage for intense negotiations over the formation of a coalition government. Coalition talks have a 48-hour deadline, according to most observers. The EU is demanding that they affirm a commitment to key terms of the second Greek bailout, worth €130 billion, which have already meant devastating social cuts and wrecked the country’s economy.
Throughout the election, the EU threatened to cut off credit to Greece if it objected to the bailout terms. This would force Greece to either accept the collapse of its financial system or reintroduce a Greek national currency to fund its banks. Greek officials said last week that unless a delayed €1 billion tranche of troika funding is paid, they will run out of funds to pay pensions and public sector wages by July 20.
These efforts to blackmail the Greek working class did not prevent SYRIZA’s vote increasing substantially from the 16.7 percent won in Greece’s previous election, held last month.
It is mathematically possible for New Democracy (ND) to form a coalition government based simply on the pro-Memorandum parties.
because of an anti-democratic rule giving the biggest party 50 seats extra in parliament.
Party leader Antonis Samaras said Greeks had voted to stay in the euro and called for a “national salvation government.”
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras agreed that ND should be the first to try to form a coalition.
The formation of an openly pro-Memorandum coalition faces significant obstacles, however.
ND’s key ally in such a coalition—the social democratic PASOK, which won 12.5 percent of the vote—announced last night they would not join a coalition unless SYRIZA participated in it. The large SYRIZA vote and the general disaffection expressed in the low turnout convinced PASOK that it would be dangerous to proceed as if the pro-Memorandum parties had a mandate to rule.
PASOK proposed a national unity government of the four leading parties—also including the small Democratic Left, a right-wing split from SYRIZA. Its calculation was clear: a government that visibly defied the deep popular opposition to austerity in Greece by excluding SYRIZA would face mass opposition and be unable to govern effectively.
Europe’s bankers and their tame politicians are cock-a-hoop at the electoral victory for Greece’s New Democracy (ND) conservatives, but their celebrations may be premature: here.
How often does sport immitate reality? In a Euro clash that does not involve currency, Germany — the pro-austerity soccer heavy-weight — is set to play Greece in the first knock-out round of Euro 2012 on Thursday.
NARROW NEW DEMOCRACY WIN – A MINOR BREATHING SPACE FOR BOSSES: here.
View from Athens – a Greek Tragedy: here. Alexis Papazoglou compares the Greek crisis with Sophocles’ Antigone.
In Italy, a Deadly Recession and Austerity Fuel Suicides: here.