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5 Νοε 2011

Daily round-up - Political developments in Greece 04 November 2011

04 November was the 3rd day of the confidence vote process and was marked by a coordinated change of attitude by PASOK members of parliament, who yesterday appeared to withhold their support for the government. The vague plans for forming a “national unity” government in order to complete the process for the next loan agreement reassured those MPs who had found themselves opposing the prime minister.
Until the opening of the session of parliament in the afternoon, one PASOK MP after the other expressed support for the idea of a transitional government. Public statements by Christofilopoulou, Gerekou, Voudouris, Papagerogiou expressed the hope that by Monday the Prime Minister will have launched the procedure to form such a government.

Only two MPs held a different stance regarding support for the current government. Minister of Health Andreas Loverdos warned in a public letter that he would resign unless immediate action was taken to establish a “national unity” government. Mr. Androulakis, on the other hand, stated that he will abstain from voting, calling the steps taken by the leaders of PASOK and Nea Dimokratia «pathetic bluff» and the whole process «a parody».
Independent MP Elsa Papadimitriou also indicated that she would abstain, although she’d said on 03 November that she’d vote in favour of the confidence motion.
At the opening of the session of parliament in the afternoon, most PASOK MPs stated their support for the plan to form a government of national unity, although opinions differed with regards to practicalities. Ch. Protopappas said he believes that such a government should complete the activation of the loan agreement over several months. Mrs. Panaritis suggested such a government shouldn’t even be transitional, but govern for the two years left until the next general election.
Former PASOK minister Louka Katseli, who was barred from PASOK for voting down an article of the latest austerity bill, stated inside parliament that she would wait to listen to the prime minister and would then make up her mind. Mrs Kaili, who had threatened yesterday to resign if the referendum project wasn’t shelved, expressed the same opinion as Mrs. Katseli.
Multiple, constantly changing scenarios were put forward with regards to the national unity government before the Prime Minister’s speech. It was unclear whether the Prime Minister would keep his position in the new government, or if he would transfer power to his deputy Evangelos Venizelos in a strictly caretaking capacity. At the same time, suggestions for a government of unelected technocrats or consensual personalities were flying around. There have been discussions with Nea Dimokratia as well as the leader of far-right LAOS, G. Karatzaferis.
It must be noted that 04 November saw a worsening of the situation in Italy, which has been put under IMF supervision. Also noteworthy were the statements of the president of the European Commission, J. Barroso, who expressed certainty that Greece would form a national unity government, emphasising that «this is a one-way road, since the other path is default.»

Papandreou won the confidence vote and… starts the process to hand over power

The final result of the confidence vote in parliament was 153 voting yes and 145 voting no, with two MPs absent from proceedings. The 153 votes in favour of the motion came exclusively from MPs of the governing party PASOK, while all opposition parties voted no, without excluding however the possibility of participating in a national unity government.
However, the government is expected to change next week, according to the Prime Minister’s and Deputy PM’s statements in parliament. Mr. Papandreou will ask the President of the Republic to start negotiations with political leaders in order to form a government « with a broad base of support » whose target would be the completion of all necessary procedures to secure the 6th loan tranche and ratify the new loan agreement before calling for a general election.
Key points of the voting process: 
  • Mr. Papandreou gave a full review of his contribution to political life and stated that he will form a government « with a broad base of support » (instead of a « national unity » government)
  • The new government will result from discussions among political party leaders under the auspices of the President of the Republic, and will aim at completing procedures to activate the new loan agreement, as well as some issues of national interest.
  • The PM did not clarify which individual would lead the new government. He did not express any support however for the option of unelected personalities.
  • In February, according to the deputy PM, or at latest in March, Greece will be holding a general election.
  • Opposition leader Samaras stated Nea Dimokratia will not participate in the new government and demanded elections, because « his proposals were rejected ».
  • Aleka Papariga (leader of communist party KKE) and Alexis Tsipras (leader of left-wing party Syriza) also insisted in demanding elections and defined the coalition government formation process as a “back door deal” between political parties to implement more austerity measures without democratic legitimacy.
  • G. Karatzaferis (leader of far-right LAOS) and Dora Bakoyianni (leader of conservative Dimikratiki Symmachia) will participate in negotiations and possibly in the news government.
  • F. Kouvelis (leader of left-wing Dimokratiki Aristera) will participate in negotiations but not in the new government.
  • It must be noted that those PASOK MPs who had expressed doubts about supporting the government unless specific moves towards a national unity government tool place (Loverdos, Androulakis, Kaili, Panaritis) finally voted yes.
  • Louka Katseli, who had been barred from PASOK, also voted yes, and was reintegrated in the party’s parliamentary group as a result of her vote. 
Text by Galaxyarchis, translation by IrateGreek

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