Thursday, January 01, 2015

Elections in Greece coming January 25

New parliamentary elections are scheduled in Greece for January 25.

This is scaring the defenders of Angela Merkel's austerity policies. Because the anti-austerity party SYRIZA led by Alexis Tsipras is currently leading in the polls.

The immediate occasion for calling elections was the failure of the Greek Parliament to select a President (head of state). But the urgent background reason is the devastating economic and social consequences of Merkel's Herbert Hoover/Heinrich Brüning austerity policies.

Greek PM dissolves parliament ahead of snap elections Euronews 12/30/2014:

Yanis Varoufakis thinks his means Greece is about to give European democracy a chance 12/30/2014. He characterizes the reaction of austerity defenders to the news of new Greek elections this way:

When the constitutional process of a proud European democracy seemed to be leading, quite properly, to elections (as was the case in Greece since the Fall), the European Commission, various governments and the commentariat-at-large intervened, presenting the prospect of elections (the crowning moment of the democratic process) as a disaster-in-the-making; as a calamity to be avoided at all cost.

When the elections became inescapable, the same power brokers began to lecture the citizens of this small, proud nation on how to vote. And when these voters seemed eager to vote differently, European Union authorities began to warn any new government that might emerge that it should consider itself a caretaker of the agreements that the previous government had struck with the European Union – that any thought of re-negotiating them should perish instantly.

The conservative European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and defender of Merkel's austerity policies verbally shook his finger at the Greek voters and told them they better behave (Don't vote 'wrong' way, EU's Juncker urges Greeks Reuters 12/12/2014):

In general, EU officials take pains to avoid accusations of interference and Juncker's remarks went beyond the normal reticence. ...

"I assume that the Greeks -- who don't have an easy life, above all the many poor people -- know very well what a wrong election result would mean for Greece and the euro zone," he said.

"I won't express my own opinion. I just wouldn't like extremist forces to take the wheel.

"I would like Greece to be governed by people with an eye on and a heart for the many little people in Greece -- and there are many -- and also understand the necessity of European processes."
This is genuine arrogance. This guy has a cynical "old boys" mentality.

He also said, "Each party who stands for election has to live up to these standards and I won't comment on the chances of one or the other party, but I would prefer if known faces show up." (Juncker warns Greeks against voting 'extreme forces' into power Ekathemareni 12/12/2014) He only wants to see familiar faces who support the austerity policies the European One Percent favor, no matter how many millions they hurt.

Lucía Bellán also reports on the European elite's concern over democracy in Greece in Bruselas teme que la inestabilidad arruine la débil mejoría económica El País 28.12.2014. At the very end, she makes the cryptic statement:

Y el temido Alexis Tsipras no ha dejado de reunirse con altos funcionarios de Bruselas e incluso en torres aún más altas, como la del BCE: en público la Comisión cierra filas con Samarás, pero en privado Tsipras no está tan mal visto ni en Bruselas ni en Fráncfort."

[And the feared Alexis Tsipras has not neglected to meet with high functionaries of Brussels, and even in towers even higher, such as that of ECB: in public the Commission closes ranks with {conservative Greek Prime Minister Antonis} Samaras, but in private Tsipras is not viewed as so bad, neither in Brussels nor in Frankfurt.]

One politics-is-politics aspect of this to watch is that the defenders of the Merkel's austerity policies will try to conflate the "EU-critical" position of SYRIZA and other left parties like Podemos in Spain and the Left Party in Germany with those of the "EU-skeptical" parties in various countries. And those parties will also try to jump on the bandwagon of the critical position with which SYRIZA and Podemos and the Five Star Movement in Italy have recently enjoyed surprising success. (An important distinction here: SYRIZA and Podemos are explicit about wanting to keep their countries in the eurozone while Five Star wants to take Italy out.)

Grecia, sin crédito del FMI Página/12 31.12.2014 reports:

El lunes varios líderes de formaciones políticas antieuropeas, antisistema o antiausteridad, se apresuraron a saludar lo que bautizaron como “la victoria de la democracia” en Grecia tras el fallido intento por elegir presidente. Pablo Iglesias, secretario general de Podemos, alentó al líder de Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, asegurando que “2015 será el año del cambio en España y en Europa” y Jean-Luc Melenchon, líder de la izquierda francesa, estimó que “Grecia se va a liberar”. La jefa del Frente Nacional francés, de extrema derecha, Marine Le Pen, se ufanó de lo que dio en llamar “la victoria del pueblo y de sus representantes contra la oligarquía europea y el sector financiero”, mientras que el líder de la formación británica antieuropea UKIP, Nigel Farage, estimó que “el pueblo griego puede ahora recuperar el control de su democracia”.

[On Monday various leaders of European political formations that are anti-European, anti-system or anti-austerity, hurried to salute what they baptized as "the victory of democracy" in Greece after the failed attempt to elect a President. Pablo Iglesias, Secretary General of Podemos, encouraged the leader of SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, assuring him that "2015 will be the year of change in Spain and in Europe" and Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the French left, estimated that "Greece will liberate itself." The chief of the French National Front, of the extreme right, Marine Le Pen, boasted of what she is given to calling "the victory of the people and their representatives against the European oligarchy and the financial sector," while the leader of the British anti-European formation UKIP, Nigel Farage, estimated that "the Greek people can now recover control of their democracy."]

Bruno Waterfield and Menelaos Tzafalias in Greece 'on a collision course with EU' warns Germany The Telegraph 12/29/2014 give the Farage and Mélenchon comments as follows:

Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, said: “Stripped of their own currency and plunged into poverty by Brussels control, the Greek people now have a chance to take back democratic control.”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the French Left Party, hailed the elections as the signal for political upheaval in France as François Hollande’s unpopular government struggles to implement austerity measures demanded by the eurozone. “Finally the chains are breaking. Greece will soon be free. Then it’s our turn,” he said on Twitter.