Greece: “Country in Limbo”

Gerry’s analysis notwithstanding, in Greece they’re trying to come to terms with those election results.  As the BBC reports

Greece’s centre-right leader, Antonis Samaras, has said he cannot form a coalition government, hours after he was given a mandate by the president.

His New Democracy, which backed the last EU bailout, emerged as the biggest party after Sunday’s election, but he said a coalition was “impossible”.


President Karolos Papoulias has now arranged a meeting for Tuesday morning with Alexis Tsipras, who leads the anti-bailout Syriza leftist coalition, which came second in Sunday’s vote.

And when that fails…  The Irish Times hosts a Reuters report

In the face of what looks like an intractable impasse, another election in a few weeks could be the only way out, deepening doubts about Greece’s future.

“Country in Limbo” said a headline in the Imerisia newspaper. “Nightmare of Ungovernability” said Ta Nea daily.

Many Greeks seemed shocked at what they had done in an election earthquake that sent tremors across Europe and increased fears of a return to the euro zone debt crisis first sparked by Greece in 2009.

“I’m hopeful but also scared,” said 36-year-old Sofia Tsaliki, an office clerk. “New elections won’t bring anything, but at least we are giving a message to the politicians and Europeans that they need to take proper notice and cannot ignore us anymore.”

The result rattled investors, sending the euro to a three-month low and safe haven German government bond futures to record highs, although the index of top euro zone shares reversed early losses to head into positive territory, suggesting alarm about Greece’s ability to harm the wider euro zone was muted.

Analysts expressed deep gloom about Greece’s fate with Citigroup saying the odds of an exit from the euro zone had risen to between 50 and 75 per cent from 50 per cent previously.

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  • dodrade

    The politicians have failed, time for the return of the King, restore Constantine to the Greek throne!

  • Framer

    Let the Trots form a minority government.

  • wee buns

    Recall yon conversation on Greece from waayyy back last summer:

    “and the red flags are still flying there”

    Oh dear…

    Fine, wee buns, but that is just one element of the problems facing the European Project.

    And that’s why a narrow focus on that particular issue is mostly irrelevant in a wider consideration of the current existential crisis.

    With the weekend that was in it – not so irrelevant now – huh Pete? 🙂

  • Unfortunately, in an environment like that currently pertaining in Greece, any analysis is going to be overtaken by events in a matter of hours.

    For what it’s worth, my reading of this is that ND, being well aware of SYRIZA’s unwillingness to be part of an ND-led coalition and capacity to bring people out on to the streets, is putting the ball back into SYRIZA’s court. SYRIZA will simply not be able to form a coalition (see below) and a few days, weeks or months later, ND’s preferred option of a Government of National Unity led by it, and probably involving all parties except the Nazis and the Communists, suddenly starts to look inevitable again. (This really does have Weimar written all over it, although thankfully the Reds and Browns between them are still at 15% and not 50%.)

    It’s a clever move; putting an anti-system party in the driving seat means they face a choice between cocking things up badly or no longer being an anti-system party.

    The Greek electoral system is list PR with a whopping 50 seat bonus (out of 300) to the party which gets the highest number of votes nationally. In the days when PASOK and ND got about 40% each and everybody else got 20% between them, this was a clever way of favouring single party governments while ensuring everyone else got just a tad short of fair representation. In the current fragmented climate, it means that forming a government without ND is very hard.

    If one assumes that a party as overtly neo-Nazi as Golden Dawn is, as our German friends would put it, koalitionsunfähig, then the only mathematically possible coalition not involving ND is one of SYRIZA, PASOK, the Independent Greeks and the Communists. Is that workable? Possibly; but I wouldn’t fancy it if I were Greek. The Independent Greeks are, obviously, coming from a rather different part of the pitch than the others ideologically, and KKE is still a true believing Marxist-Leninist party. (Like, seriously true believing.)

    KKE were briefly in a sort of “interparty government” style arrangement with ND the 1980s when both just wanted rid of PASOK after they had been in power for over a decade. It wasn’t a particularly happy relationship. They also took part in Georgios Papandreou’s government of national unity in the mid-1990s. But these days they really sound like they’re praying that Athens 2012 will be a repeat of Moscow 1917. Moments of opportunity for orthodox Marxist-Leninists have been in short supply over the past generation and I think they’ll want to play this one for maximum effect.

    SYRIZA, PASOK, the Independent Greeks and the Democratic Left could probably come to some sort of accommodation but would be 6 seats short of an overall majority. And it would remain extraordinarily broad ideologically. (Yes, yes, I know I live in Northern Ireland.)

    Fresh elections? Does anyone think they are going to solve anything in current circumstances. Remember, Greeks votes against the bailout by 2 to 1 on Sunday. Only the massive seat bonus for ND allowed the ND-PASOK coalition to look like a possibility. As a commenter on my FB page put it, that would be a government of crooks facing an opposition of crazies. Frighteningly Weimar, indeed, so it’s as well it didn’t come about.

    PS – I’m not a Greek constitutional lawyer, but in most countries a protracted delay in forming a coalition would lead to technocrats implementing the policies of the last government until the new one is in place. That would mean the longer the delay, the longer the bailout terms continue to be in force. Not sure if that applies in Greece.