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Greek Referendum: Opposition Demands Early Elections – Scenarios

The winds of Aeolus strongly started to blow in Greece and a storm of reactions came from the opposition, after PM George Papandreou announced a referendum on the loan-agreement of the Oct 26th, 2011 and a confidence vote. The whole opposition asks early elections, the Athens Stock Exchange plunges and the “sovereign people” (old PASOK slogan that was un-dusted last night again after two years where noboby bothered to ask people’s opinion..) keep quite, while some of them rushed to withdraw bank savings.

There are several scenarios circulating and claiming that the referendum, due to take place Mid-January 2011, has hardly a chance to be held. The scenarios speaking of possibilities to force early elections are:

1) PASOK MPs won’t give a vote of confidence to the government/ The vote is due on Friday, November 4th, 2011 at midnight. PASOK has 153 seats, it needs 151 votes.

2) Opposition parties resign from the parliament.

3) the President of the Republic resigns.

4) Worst scenario: the protests to commemorate “November 17th”, the Student’s Uprise at the Polytechnical School in 1973 during the military dictatorship.

Antonis Samaras, the leader of main opposition party Nea Dimokratia, requested an urgent meeting with the President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias. Greek media claimed that he will ask the President not to sign the referendum bill. After the meeting, Samaras said the elections are a “national necessity” and stressed that “ND will do everything and with every possible sacrifice to avert the adventurous experiments [like the referendum]. Samaras will reveal his plans tomorrow at the meeting of the ND parliamentary group.

The “ND scenario” claims that Nea Dimokratia MPs will resign all together and force the PM to go to early elections.  ND has 85 seats in the Greek Parliament of 300. Should more of 60 MPs reign and go ‘independent”, there is no space for repetitive elections. Massive resignations of MPs is a common political blackmail tool and normally force early elections, should governments fail to resign.

Meanwhile also far-right LAOS considers to choose the mass-resignation option.

The situation is difficult also within ruling party PASOK, then last night one MP issued an open letter to PM asking ‘government of national unity’ without Papandreou. PASOK has 153 seats in the Parliament. A further question is whether this government that already shows sign of exhaustion will manage to come through a 3-month period of time in an unsettled atmosphere of political and financial instability with huge social consequences.

Of course, the question is who will rule after the elections and what is the plan B to take the country out of the economic crisis and prevent a 100% bankruptcy. 

PS I see ballot boxes under the Christmas Tree….

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  1. Why would “2) Opposition parties resign form the parliament” force new elections? PASOK would still have a working majority wouldn’t it?

    • keeptalkinggreece

      It is impossible for any parliament to have 60 ‘indepentant’ deputies.

      • I don’t see the problem of having 60 independant deputies in any parliament. Only if the quorum in the Greek parliament has to be higher than 153 to function and too many parliamentarians resign then new elections would be unavoidable. Or am I missing something?

        • keeptalkinggreece

          come on! that was only in Sovjet republics possible.

          • In the Dutch and Belgium parliaments only half of the members plus one have to be present to have a quorum and be functional. Only for Constitutional chances this is higher. So those parliaments can function if the opposition walks out. It is not something that is desirable. But neither is the sight of an opposition running for the door.
   and jump to ‘By Country’ to see examples of parliaments that sometimes need even less people present.
            So, is there a special rule or law in Greece that stipulates that when the whole opposition resigns that there HAS to be new general elections? Or can there just be new elections for the vacant seats.

            Sorry for going on with this, but I think it is rather important for understanding the way things are done here.

          • keeptalkinggreece

            they will resign as party , not from the seats.there won’t be vacant seats but 1/5 of the seats will be occupied by indepentant deputies.

  2. Hi

    can you explain in more detail how the resignation of 60+ MPs from the ND party would trigger an election. Does this move trigger a constutitional provision in relation to the election of President? I can’t find information anywhere

  3. With Apostolakis resigning, Vasso Papandreou openly going contrair to the PM and Venizelos in hospital this whole ‘quorum-thing’ is becomming increasingly unimportant… With less than 151 PASOK MPs elections would be called.