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Towards New Democracy and PASOK's government

23 June 2013 / 15:06:18  GRReporter
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Following the withdrawal of Democratic Left, the already bipartisan government of New Democracy and PASOK is forming a new equilibrium. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos want to use the crisis that followed the closure of the national broadcaster ERT as a new starting point, so that the government could work at least until the next European Parliament elections next May. Last week, Samaras and Venizelos received clear messages from Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, respectively, that any new political instability would be disastrous for the country, since the Greek economy’s financing depends directly on the implementation of the agreed programme.

Rethinking of the programme agreement between New Democracy and PASOK could also contribute to the resumption of the government’s dynamics. But it is clear that the government will work under the threat of a wrong choice or wrong assessment that will lead to a rift between Samaras and Venizelos. This is not only due to the challenging agenda that the government needs to fulfil because of the conditions agreed with the Troika, or the threat of new measures in the case that financial goals are not achieved. There is also pressure inside PASOK which became apparent at meetings of the parliamentary group last Thursday. The climate within the group suggests that any move that could be seen as a retreat on the side of Venizelos before Samaras could lead to opposition.

For the time being, the government seems stabilised for two reasons. One is that it can count on support from independent deputies, or in extreme situations – on members of Democratic Left, as Fotis Kouvelis made clear. The other is that Samaras and Venizelos seem to have reached an agreement regarding the crisis with ERT - Samaras managed to persuade others to accept the idea of the shutdown, in this way breaking one of the biggest taboos and sending a decisive message inside and outside Greece. Venizelos, in turn, gained more influence over government decision-making, which, until now, was practically zero, as well as greater involvement of PASOK party cadres in the new government formation.

Nevertheless, there are crucial questions that need to be answered. The first is what the face of the reformed government will be. PASOK has claimed a 2:1 cadre ratio, i.e. of a total of 45 ministers and deputy ministers, 30 will be from New Democracy and 15 from PASOK.

The second is whether Venizelos will become deputy prime minister in the new government. So far, he has not said anything, in order to avoid the impression that talks with Samaras were triggered by position matters. But according to rumours, in addition to the deputy prime minister’s position, Venizelos will also receive the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Administrative Reform.

The third is whether the model of negotiations with the Troika will change. Reportedly, Yiannis Stournaras, who has the full support of the Prime Minister, despite criticism over the last two weeks by Venizelos and Kouvelis, would support the participation of a PASOK representative in the Negotiating Group, in order to avoid future criticism and so that a common line of behaviour could be maintained.

Changes in the government are expected next week, following a final agreement between PASOK and New Democracy.

Tags: changes in the government PASOK New Democracy Antonis Samaras Evangelos Venizelos
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