Saturday, May 12, 2012

Greece's Radical Turn to the Left to be Confirmed in Next Month's Election

by Rick Moran

When you consider that the radical socialist party Syriza won the second largest number of votes in last weekend's election, beating out the establishment socialist PASOK party for second place, the chances are pretty good that some form of far left coalition will emerge after the dust settles next month from the new vote.

That vote has become necessary because the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, wants all austerity measures implemented in order to receive money from the EU/IMF bailout, to be lifted immediately and he refuses to join any coalition government that refuses to do so.


Greek Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos is expected to turn over the responsibility of forming a unity government to the president of Greece on Saturday after failing to resolve a political gridlock and avert the need for new elections.

On Friday, Venizelos announced the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, refused to join the socialists and conservatives in a unity government due to a disagreement on the country's economic austerity program. The Socialist and conservative New Democracy parties have proposed a gradual phasing out of the tough measures imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a bailout loan. The leftists want those measures canceled immediately. If there is no lasting agreement by May 17, new elections will be called.

President Karolos Papoulias is expected to call on parties to form an emergency coalition to govern until new elections are held.

Greek voters punished both the Socialists PASOK and New Democracy for having pushed through the tough economic austerity measures in return for huge international loans to avert bankruptcy.

Venizelos is the third Greek leader who tried and failed to form a government after inconclusive elections last Sunday.

Earlier Friday, Venizelos met with the leader of the Conservative Party, Antonis Samaras, for talks on a coalition government. Another possible ally, the small Democratic Left party, said it would not join a government made up only of Socialists and the conservative New Democracy party and that did not include Syriza.

The response from Germany was simple and direct: Greece will get no more money without reforms. During the campaign, Tsipras sold the Greek voters on the idea that this was all a big bluff, that the EU couldn't survive without Greece. I doubt whether even a loony leftist like Tsipras really believes that, but it worked; his party is now a major player in what is going to be a post-EU Greece.

And if the Greek people thought austerity was painful, wait until they experience the torture of default.

Rick Moran


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