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live The fall of Papandreou: A week of pains

07 November 2011 / 20:11:19  GRReporter
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Greece has been in the eye of the euro cyclone for almost the last two years, but last week, it could be said, was the apotheosis of the Greek political drama that actually has threatened to sweep the entire eurozone.

October 31 - It all starts on Halloween, when Prime Minister George Papandreou suddenly states that he will hold a referendum on "whether the Greek people are "for" or "against" the adoption of the second bailout from Europe. It would bring Greece € 100 billion in low interest rate funding from the budgets of eurozone countries and a proposal for a mechanism (Private Sector Involvement - PSI+), which would reduce the Greek debt by about € 100 billion.

In return, Greece should take more seriously the introduction of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, which are particularly unpopular for the Greek society. These same measures such as the cut of state institutions, reduction of ministerial budgets and elimination of privileges in the name of market liberalization have proved to be quite unusual for the political class in the country. It is used to voting measures that appeal to people regardless of the burden for the state budget. The second bailout became known as the decisions of the EU leaders’ summit of October 26.

November 2 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shocked by Papandreou's request to ask the people whether they would want European billions pull themselves together quickly and convene an extraordinary meeting for problematic Greece within the G20 summit in Cannes. It becomes clear that during the meeting the leaders of the two most powerful European countries have set an ultimatum to Papandreou "If you want a referendum, it will be whether Greece will remain in the euro area or not." They argue that as far as referendums are concerned, first the 16 eurozone countries, giving money to the troubled country should have called referendums and then Greece would have the right to call one.

November 3 - A storm of events inside and outside the country follow the Franco-German ultimatum. First, a split comes between Prime Mnister George Papandreou and his deputy and Mnister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos. The Prime Minister insists that there should be a referendum but with a different theme. On his way back from Cannes, Venizelos states that the European perspective of Greece is a historic achievement and it cannot be questioned, thereby denying the option of holding a referendum on the new conditions.

On the same day the proposal by opposition leader Antonis Samaras comes out for a caretaker government and early elections. He calls for an interim government to ratify the new agreement for help, but not the laws that enforce the measures. Brussels is not satisfied as it expects a joint support for the aid package from Greece, unconventionally and without political games. The head of the counsel of eurozone finance ministers Jean-Claude Juncker states openly that the eurozone could do without Greece. What was until recently a taboo issue is now being discussed openly in public.

November 4 - After the referendum issue stays in the background, the second most serious problem with the confidence vote to the government of George Papandreou emerges. It is nearly ruined by some of the female representatives of PASOK, but post-crisis debates give the green light to the government of Papandreou. The only consolation of the entire Greek people is George Papandreou’s pledge that he would resign and call a coalition government if he won the vote. He is voted 153 "yes" and the socialist government wins confidence for a few days.

November 5 - on Saturday, Papandreou visits the President of the Republic Carlos Papoulias to officially announce that he would undertake to form a new coalition government. Very quickly, it becomes clear that Europe does not leave many options on how the Greek political forces will allocate power as long as they agree that the country should remain in the eurozone and therefore, it should comply with all obligations under the bailout agreement.

November 6 – a day after the visit of the Greek prime minister to the President's residence, Carlos Papoulias meets the parliamentary opposition leader Antonis Samaras. After a 17-minute meeting with the President, Samaras tells journalists that he would support the interim coalition government only for Papandreou's resignation.

Tags: PoliticsGreecePapandreouActionResignationNew governmentAthens
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