Coalition partners unlikely
Greece’s wild ride through the wake of the Eurozone mega-bailout continued to bounce along today as far-left lawmakers split off from the (already far-left) Syriza party to form their own rebel faction.
Former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and his fellow malcontents now have three days to bolster the new Popular Unity party and cobble together a coalition government. (Previous efforts to seize control by Syriza’s main opponent, the conservative New Democracy party, failed.) Lafazanis has no grand illusions about being able to do so, which means that Greek voters will head to the polls as early as September 20 to elect new representatives. The early election cycle snapped into place after embattled Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned last week amid harsh criticism from his colleagues over the terms of the multibillion dollar bailout.
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“Some people think they can hide the consequences of the (bailout agreements) from the Greek people,” Lafazanis said, commenting on Tsipras’ decision to trigger elections, as he met with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos to receive the mandate to form a government. “This is democratic backtracking, if not an undemocratic aberration.”
Despite acknowledging it has no chance of forming a government, Popular Unity says it will keep the mandate for the full three days.
“We don’t have illusions. An anti-(bailout) government cannot be formed by this parliament,” Lafazanis said. “But we will use this mandate to show that the only thing that works toward the interest of the country and the Greek people is to have a new anti-(bailout) parliament.”
While some analysts have voiced concerns the election could derail the implementation of bailout measures Greece has signed up to, others argued it could lead to a more stable government.
That stability would come from a showing of voter confidence in Tsipras’ acquiescence to the creditors’ bailout plan. With Syriza split, the embattled moderate faction may be able to save face (and thus, power) by convincing voters that the extreme parliamentary left’s desire to push a full-on anti-austerity agenda will prove fruitless in terms of stabilizing the economy. If Syriza party leadership is able to do this, they’ll also have a better chance of building a coalition with other factions who prefer a more moderate approach.
Tsipras, for his part, will be able to lead his party into the election, but it’s unclear whether or not his presence will be a boon to the Syriza’s chances to maintain its hold on parliament. A July poll put Syriza’s support level at around 33%, which surpasses that of other parties; this bodes well for Tsipra’s chances to salvage a coalition majority, also due in part to the timeline guiding the rollout of austerity measures. The harshest cuts—to pensions and entitlement programs—will not hit until after Greeks cast their votes in September.DONATE
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