What happened last night in Greece? I could summarize it in just a few words: we have very extrovert politicians in the government who prefer to carry out their disagreements in public than sit in an office and work out their differences in public. Otherwise I have no reasonable explanation as to why prime minister Antonis Samaras agreed with his coalition partners to ‘re-open’ ERT, re-hire 2,000 personnel and work out a plan for the new ERT with the old ERT open. More or less this is the result of the compromise plan and the substance of the tough negotiations between the three leaders that brought the country on the verge of snap elections.
Of course, one could argue that unilateral decision of Samaras to shutdown the country’s public broadcaster on June 11th was based on wrong calculations and estimations: that Greeks would applaud the closure of a “sinister ERT” (so PM Samaras) that was exhausting them economically with 4.29 euro per month as license fee.
The decision backfired. An outcry in- and outside the country rose, Samaras’s coalition partners threatened to pull the carpet under his feet. The ERT-personnel sought the aid of the Council of State that ruled all ERT television and radio frequencies would be directly restored. The management and the assets of ERT were transferred to the Finance Ministry, after Samaras order the shutdown and the dissolution with a Legislative Act signed by his ministers only.
Samaras demonstratively ignored his coalition partners. When they raised their objection the Sunday before the closure, instead of negotiating with them a plan on how ERT should be restructured, he chose the option to walk alone the path of so-called “radical reforms”. This could not end right. It didn’t. PASOK and Democratic Left revolted. A government crisis broke out.
On the occasion of ERT shutdown, the frustrated Samaras’ partners demanded to have more say in the country’s governance.
To avoid being left alone on the country’s throne and consequently having to step down as he didn’t win the absolute majority in June-17-2012 elections.
Therefore, he started to negotiate with PASOK and DemLeft on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Holding our breaths – or not!
On Thursday night, a thriller broke out, when Kouvelis stepped back from the ERT agreement they had achieved on Wednesday. Apparently due to pressure from his own party.
For 3-4 hours the country was holding its breath: Would DemLeft withdraw its support? Would the coalition government collapse? Would Samaras seek confidence vote? Would the country go to early elections? Would the IMF continue pouring money to Greece? Would the sun rise tomorrow? Would my pet’s picture go viral? Would my strawberry tart be a success?
Apart from…kidding. Not the whole country was holding its breath: the jobless youth chatting about work options abroad and the pensioners had gone to bed when PM Samaras went live on TV to tell the public what he thinks of governance, ERT and his partner Kouvelis (not much, but he invited him to stay in coalition).
Samaras blamed Kouvelis for the gov’t crisis and praised PASOK as ‘brave’. And what Samaras said? “We hope also to the support of Democratic Left. Although Venizelos has a point when he says that some bear the entire responsibility and some appear only occasionally.”
Not that it would make a difference if Kouvelis stays or goes. ND + PASOK + 2 independent MP = 155 votes in parliament of 300. A very thin but just a majority.
After 3 loan agreements, 5 years of recession and 1.5 million jobless Greeks will end up being boverned again by Nea Dimocratia and PASOK!
+++ 01:30 pm majority of DemLeft parliamentary group decided that the party withdraws its ministers from the coalition government. DEmLeft has Justice and Public Administration ministers and two deputy ministers. +++
It looks as if it wasn’t only Greece holding its breath: EU’s Olli Rehn, Eurogroup Dijsselboem, Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble and even the IMF were allegedly closely monitoring the Greek thriller urging the politicians to keep calm & keep going. OK IMF made the difference and allegedly said “if elections, no money (private Mega TV).
At 2.30 in the morning, they all (politicians, journalists and economists) went to bed and I switched over to watch my new favorite series “the Cashmere mafia.”
Much ado about getting rid of junior partner
Friday morning, Kouvelis will have to give an answer whether he will be part of the coalition.
Greek press considers as given that the country is now being ruled by Nea Dimocratia and PASOK with the support of 2 independent MPs – former ND-MPs wanting to return to the mother party.
The question remain: why this 10-day long political crisis that triggered confusion and inflame polarization among the society?
The answer could be simple: authoritarian DNA and the arrogance of power. Oh wait! …and outgoing.
Because working things out in silence, making civilized compromises do not bring gains for the political parties. It has to be loud and impulsive. It has to be passionate and provocative. It has to stir sentiments and force people to take parts. It has to divide and polarize the society.
Only then, it turns into a “win-win” situation for the political parties, while the losers are “the usual suspects”: the people.
Welcome to Greece 🙂