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German elections will determine the life of the new Greek government

25 June 2013 / 20:06:32  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Several hours after the composition of the new Greek cabinet had been announced, it had been sworn in and the first meeting of the council of ministers took place in the parliament immediately afterwards. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras introduced the guidelines of the reshuffled cabinet to the ministers, stating that its goal is for it to survive a full four-year term.

Political analyst George Sefertzis is talking with GRReporter about the life expectancy of the new cabinet, its composition and its future actions.

Mr. Sefertzis, how would you comment on the composition of the new Greek cabinet?

After many days of hesitation as regards the cohesion and orientation of the government, the formation of the new cabinet is undoubtedly a new beginning. It has three very important features - firstly, this government is more political than the previous one, secondly it is more experienced as it involves leading members of both parties, thirdly is that it seems more homogeneous and therefore less exposed to intra-party differences that would threaten its cohesion. This does not mean that we can think, in advance, that the new government will cope more easily with outstanding issues.

What are the first tasks facing the cabinet?

There are two main tasks. One is to trigger the reforms set in the Memorandum, as they are urgently needed regardless of it. The reforms, at state and social level, have been indispensable for decades and the time to complete them is now as they are the prerequisite for the existence of our economy.

The second task of the government is to draw up at least the basics of a plan for the state and the economy after the implementation of the reforms imposed by the Memorandum because it will be over eventually, whether in an easier or more difficult way. The big question will remain then, namely, what will happen after the Memorandum? Which policy, what economy and what development will be pursued.

How long will this government survive in your opinion?

This is the most critical and most difficult question. We could say that the life of the cabinet will depend on its effectiveness. If the government is able to more quickly achieve results and make apparent the differences due to the reforms, then, most probably, it will be able to survive for a longer period of time.

But precisely because of this stake, if its performance is not apparent within a short period, for example 3-4 months, the government will begin to deteriorate and internal bickering will start for the same reason. Let us not forget the fact that this government is more political than the previous one. The political path of its participants is known and this makes them stronger as individuals. This may be the cause for the problems related to its cohesion, which can be the result of a lack of effective action.

When do you think the next elections will take place?

I think that several factors will play a role in this regard. The first is how the elections in Germany will be held. The second is whether they will be followed by a change in the strategy of the European Union which will facilitate the conditions for the countries of the European South, including Greece, to return to development.

This will determine the life expectancy of the new cabinet and therefore, the date of the next elections. If, after the German elections, the prospect of return to development is gone, this will create the need for a renewal of the confidence in the parties that are ruling Greece at present. Otherwise, I think that the elections will be held even after the elections of members of the European Parliament.

How would you comment on the closure of the state broadcaster ERT from a strategic point of view since it gave rise to the events that had led to the formation of a new cabinet?

The discussion on this is significant because I do not think that only one factor had played a role as regards the Prime Minister’s risky decision. Undoubtedly, it somewhat showed a feeling of insecurity on the part of the cabinet and the Prime Minister himself. I would not exclude the possibility of a decision for early elections hiding behind this decision since Antonis Samaras and New Democracy believed that they would have been successful for them. I think it is clear that recently, the radical left SYRIZA party has lost much of its dynamism and Golden Dawn, with its actions, had actually caused a concentration of supporters of New Democracy, and the fears of a complete collapse of the economy had been all too real. Certainly, this situation - if we can be certain in such cases - was more conducive to Antonis Samaras and his party than to anyone else. Especially bearing in mind the fact that this was not the best period of the coalition partners of the time, namely PASOK and Democratic Left.

However, whether there actually was disguised pressure on the others to agree to early elections, the closure of ERT had triggered expected reactions from the European Union. The European partners of Greece would certainly not want to take the risk of destabilization, albeit temporary, here or in any other country of the European South. Early elections would not be well perceived by the public opinion in Greece either. Moreover, at that time, they would have coincided with the tourist season, which this year is considered to be critical to the development of many economic indicators.

So, whatever the Prime Minister’s intentions related to the decision to close ERT had been, an ever-increasing pressure for avoidance of early elections, both from the country and from abroad, had followed this decision.

I think that the moment when this possibility was averted, the events took their logical course and consensus between the two main ruling parties was reached. On the one hand, to permanently avoid the risk of early elections and on the other, to create new conditions that will improve the competition between New Democracy and PASOK.

Tags: PoliticsGovernmentAntonis SamarasNew DemocracyPASOKElectionsGermanyGeorge Sefertzis
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