Sunday, June 17, 2012

Greek Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras doesn't sound interested in being a part of the new Greek government

George Gilson's report Samaras seeks 'national salvation' coalition Athens News 06/17/2012 indicates that Syriza leader prefers to stay out of any new Greek government headed by the conservative New Democracy (ND) Party. But even the old establishment parties, ND and the social-democratic Pasok have been compelled by popular pressure to at least give lip service to modifying the austerity requirements of their EU/IMF bailout.

ND head Antonis Samaras will get the first try at forming a new government:

Samaras has pledged to attempt to renegotiate several points in the bailout memorandum, including an extension of the fiscal adjustment period. That type of renegotiation is at the core of the [3rd place] Pasok and [4th place] Democratic Left programmes.

Samaras is expected to attempt to form a broad-based coalition, for which socialist Pasok and Fotis Kouvelis’ Democratic Left are prime candidates.

Syriza will not be in that coalition. In his nationally televised statement, Tsipras said his party is the core of the popular, anti-memorandum majority.

Tsipras said that he will continue to oppose austerity measures and the selloff of state assets, as demanded by Greece's creditors. He said that the new government would do well to exploit the extremely strong opposition to exact better terms from Greece’s creditors.

He attributed Syriza's defeat to the unprecedented attacks on the party and the psychological terror exercised by the "unholy alliance" of the domestic and international political elite, which pressured the electorate not to vote for Syriza.
It's an open question as to whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel can be considered a rational actor on the question of Greek austerity any more.

The conventional wisdom is following the lead of ND and Pasok in regarding this vote as "pro-bailout", pro-Europe and pro-euro, and therefore a rejection of Syriza's position. But that's a sloppy oversimplification. Syriza's professed program was to demand new terms but to maintain the bailout and Greece's membership in the EU and the eurozone. None of the three top vote-getting parties (ND, Pasok, Syriza) declared itself in favor of going back to the drachma currency.

In addition, both ND and Pasok, as mentioned above, make electoral promises to attempt to get better terms on the austerity demands.

Whether maintaining Greece's membership in the EU and the eurozone are even remotely feasible at this point is a different matter. Unless Angie has a drastic change of position and soon, it's almost unthinkable that Greece can stay. Remaining under the current conditions means agreeing to the self-destruction of their own national economy.

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