Video: Greece forming a center-right alliance, not unity government

posted at 12:01 pm on June 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

After a tumultuous election day, a little more clarity seems to be coming from Greece today. The election gave the center-right and pro-euro New Democracy party the opportunity to form a government that will try to rescue not just Greece but Europe as well, and perhaps the entire global economy. ND leader Antonis Samaras will have to try to accomplish that task without the far-Left Syriza party, which had a disappointing second-place finish and refuses to participate in a pro-euro government under conditions of the bailout:

Two elections, two interim prime ministers and 221 days since Greece last had an elected government, Greek President Karolas Papoulias asked the leader of the center-right New Democracy party Monday to try to hammer out a coalition.

Antonis Samaras has three days to cobble together a government after parliamentary elections Sunday put his party in first place. The party that came in second, the radical left group Syriza, said Monday it would not back him.

The vote was widely seen as a Greek referendum on staying in the euro, the currency used by 325 million people across 17 countries in Europe. The possibility of a “no” vote caused near-panic in world markets, with analysts warning that the collapse of the euro would cost $1 trillion. …

Samaras said he would build a government of “parties that believe in the nation’s European orientation, that believe in the euro.”

A minority government would be a bad outcome, and the harbinger for more instability. Having Syriza as part of a governing coalition might have been worse, however. The socialists don’t want to take the necessary steps to reform Greece’s debt overhang, which is what has driven the crisis; in fact, they thought that they’d get a lot more Greeks to agree with them on that point.  It’s a mildly optimistic sign that Syriza might have made itself irrelevant, at least for the moment, especially if Samaras can form a majority government that will hold together on real reform measures.

Not everyone shares that view, of course.  At The Fiscal Times, Patrick Smith laments Syriza’s hardline position and says that the real reform target should be Europe rather than Greece:

Samaras himself is also a worry. A right-wing nationalist by sentiment, he stood squarely against Greece’s first international bailout, in 2010. Even in his own party, senior business executives say he has little grasp of Europe or the restructuring plan to which Greece has submitted. The hope is that he can be persuaded to step aside in favor of a leader who can build the “government of national unity” numerous Greek politicians are now calling for.

The remaining question on the ground in Athens is Syriza, or the Coalition of the Left. Although it finished second on Sunday, the results are considered an immense step forward for the party and its leader, 37-year-old Alexis Tsipras. With 71 seats in the 300-seat legislature, it now has an influential political presence in government for the first time. This should not be underestimated.

Countless news reports have demonized Tsipras and said Syriza wants to “tear up” the bailout agreement, but this is a misreading. As Tsipras wrote in the Financial Times last week, Syriza endorses a version of the growth-and-stability blueprint the rest of Europe has been talking about since the election of François Hollande as France’s president in May. Counting minor parties, that is what 46 percent of Greeks voted for.

Except, of course, that what Hollande wants is even more borrowing and stimulus spending — and Syriza isn’t even on board with what Hollande proposed, only “a version” of it.  Borrowing and stimulus spending put Greece in the position it finds itself in today … and Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal, too, as well as the US.

In the end, the real lesson is that sharing one currency between a number of sovereign nations with wildly different senses of fiscal discipline is a bad idea.  Europe might be able to patch a solution together for the short term, but the long term solutions have to involve either separate currencies or one political sovereign in Europe, and that is exactly what the varied cultures and peoples of Europe have spent millennia fighting to prevent.

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…United States is next!

KOOLAID2 on June 18, 2012 at 12:04 PM

This will not end well…

JohnGalt23 on June 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM

The election gave the center-right and pro-euro New Democracy party the opportunity to form a government that will try to rescue not just Greece but Europe as well, and perhaps the entire global economy.

…wow!…are they SPARTANS?

KOOLAID2 on June 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

If Greece get another bailout, I heard that California will try and adopt the Euro.

Oil Can on June 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

If Samaras can’t form a government, there will be a third election. His only real option is to persuade PASOK or a coalition of smaller parties to join him.

Essentially, this outcome is identical to the outcome of the last election. I do not see how Samaras will be any more successful this time than last time in forming a government.

Doomberg on June 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Ed, how does this rescue Greece and Europe when Greece will still be forced to leave the Euro as early as this fall?

reddevil on June 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Greece’s government is teetering on the edge of a cliff, and the “New Democracy” party is basically saying that the rope ladder inches from their grasp is far too hasty of a solution.

MadisonConservative on June 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Having Syriza as part of a governing coalition might have been worse, however. The socialists don’t want to take the necessary steps to reform Greece’s debt overhang, which is what has driven the crisis; in fact, they thought that they’d get a lot more Greeks to agree with them on that point.

Greece will fall back to socialism at some point. Their best bet is to get people in charge that will pull the plug on this Euro disaster and get the fallout started now. The longer they wait, the worse the blowback will be when the Euro finally collapses.

MadisonConservative on June 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Can, kicked… check!

Austerity, no spending cuts… check!

Entitlement reforms, mouthpieced… check!

Disaster, around corner… check!

Does anyone think that guys in their early 50′s in spandex on the beach will go back to work in Greece this year because of this election? I’m not. Starve, maybe, but actually work? What? In that hazardous job of Barber? Or Janitor? Why, perish the thought, that is just as hazardous as nuclear waste disposal technician…

Greece has a problem.

It has a lot to do with Greeks.

ajacksonian on June 18, 2012 at 12:13 PM

All this for a country that is the economic equal of Connecticut…

Fabulous…

Khun Joe on June 18, 2012 at 12:17 PM

This will not end well…

JohnGalt23 on June 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM

If the Greek parties do not work together, or even if they do. The economic situation is very poor and the EU seems poised to try the same failed tactic over and over again.

We have a definition of that behavior.

dogsoldier on June 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM

What(s) happened in Greece?

Oh yeah, a group of communists held hostage the world economy.

Victory for chaos?

Speakup on June 18, 2012 at 12:22 PM

The remaining question on the ground in Athens is Syriza, or the Coalition of the Left. Although it finished second on Sunday, the results are considered an immense step forward for the party and its leader, 37-year-old Alexis Tsipras. With 71 seats in the 300-seat legislature, it now has an influential political presence in government for the first time. This should not be underestimated.

This report is very confusing, perhaps deliberately so. We read that Syriza, or Coalition of the Left, came in second with 71 seats in a 300-seat Parliament, or 24%. But how many seats did the leading center-right New Democracy Party win? Why are the “news” reports so preoccupied with how many seats the second-place party received, but they don’t even mention the parliamentary strength of the leading party?

If Samaras’ party needs a coalition to form a governing majority of at least 151 seats, it would be very difficult starting with (for example) 75 seats, but fairly easy starting with 140 seats. But with no mention of the number of seats won by Samaras’ party, readers of this article have no idea how difficult it would be for Samaras to form a governing coalition from the 229 seats not won by Syriza.

Steve Z on June 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM

All this for a country that is the economic equal of Connecticut…

Fabulous…

Khun Joe on June 18, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I live in Connecticut and I resemble that remark. ;)

Steve Z on June 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM

The “center-right” in Greece is in favor of dispensing with Greece’s sovereignty in order to accumulate more debt?

There’ are no “right” parties in Greece – not even “right” in the twisted European sense of being socialists who stand up for the sovereignty of the nation.

Greece is a total joke. As great and productive as the ancient Greeks were (standing above nearly all others) the modern Greeks are the mirror image. Pathetic and stupid in truly historical terms. They should show some respect for the genius of the ancient Greeks and change the name of their cr@ppy little country.

To think, this is the nation that went totally ape-sh!t and had a million and a half people in the street threatening WAR with Macedonia if they didn’t change their name. Yep … it happened. A million and a half people … threatening WAR over a name. These pathetic idiots were worried that the Macedonians were trying to steal history. Meanwhile, these bothering idiots do more damage to the historical Greek geniuses by using the same name and being such pathetic, retarded losers.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 18, 2012 at 12:31 PM

The obvious solution is a United One World Government.

vcferlita on June 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Having Syriza as part of a governing coalition might have been worse, however. The socialists don’t want to take the necessary steps to reform Greece’s debt overhang, which is what has driven the crisis; in fact, they thought that they’d get a lot more Greeks to agree with them on that point.

SYRIZA (it’s an acronym; thus all capital letters, writing “Syriza” is incorrect) is not socialist. PASOK is the socialist party in Greece & they were the party in control that signed onto the German austerity plan in the first place. SYRIZA calls itself the “radical left” and they are closer to communism than socialism (although they are not what can only be described to Americans as “hard communists” — the hard communist party in Greece is KKE). SYRIZA can be more accurately described as “soft communism” but definitely not as socialism.

I realize that this is difficult for Americans to understand, seeing how we basically have a 2 party system, but there is a wide range of parties in Greece that are very different from each other (more different than the GOP & Dems are from each other, truth be told — at least until Obama rose to power in the Dem party). Even the New Democracy party — which is described as “center-right” — would not be considered center-right by American standards because the “center” in Greece is not *our* center. The center in Greece is closer to socialism (PASOK). ND is *only* center right compared to communism (SYRIZA & KKE).

Dark Star on June 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

“The sky is falling! The Sky is falling!!”

You know who gets rich by this sky is falling talk – all the banks and governments that buy the country’s bonds with the high interest rates.
The higher the interest rates, the more money they make.
So better to seed fear and panic to ratchet up those rates!

Kind of like it behooves Iran to stir up things in the Middle East so the fear and panic raises oil prices…and Iran (and the rest of the world oil producers) laugh all the way to the bank while we peons pay for higher fuel…

albill on June 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Here’s the logistical problem in Greece.

You need 151 for a bare majority in a 300 seat parliament.

ND has 129 seats. That’s a good start.

SYRIZA has 71 seats, they’re leftists and far leftists.

PASOK is the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. They’re leftists, 41 seats.

Then you have the Independent Greeks, which is a breakaway movement of ND. Can they work with ND? Let’s assume they can. That’s 20 seats plus 129… ooh, so close. 149, still need two more seats or its a minority government.

Golden Dawn are neo-Nazis with 18 seats. Democratic Left are sort of a PASOK splinter, 17 seats. Then the Communists have 12 seats.

So, there you have it. A rational conservative government really isn’t possible, but at least PASOK is a party without a whole lot of principles anymore, since the majority of SYRIZA voters are the harder part of their base.

Red Cloud on June 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM

You know who gets rich by this sky is falling talk – all the banks and governments that buy the country’s bonds with the high interest rates.

albill on June 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Anybody seen George Soros lately? Would anyone really be surprised if he ruined another currency and made billions off it?

reddevil on June 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I realize that this is difficult for Americans to understand, seeing how we basically have a 2 party system,

Dark Star on June 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

We have a no-party system. Political parties are not Constitutional entities of any sort, at all, in America.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Greece is a total joke. As great and productive as the ancient Greeks were (standing above nearly all others) the modern Greeks are the mirror image. Pathetic and stupid in truly historical terms. They should show some respect for the genius of the ancient Greeks and change the name of their cr@ppy little country.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 18, 2012 at 12:31 PM

First of all, the actual name for Greece is Hellas (Ελλάς), not Greece — that is the Turkisk name for the country & that is the name the rest of the world goes by, but that isn’t the proper name for it. Greek people only use the term “Greece” and “Greeks” when speaking to the ignorant (that would be you).

Secondly, you need to worry more about your own country because based on our deficit & the polls on Obama’s job approval, at least 45% of this country looks even dumber than the Greeks.

Dark Star on June 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Beware of greeks “bearing gifts”

gerrym51 on June 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

First of all, the actual name for Greece is Hellas (Ελλάς), not Greece — that is the Turkisk name for the country & that is the name the rest of the world goes by, but that isn’t the proper name for it. Greek people only use the term “Greece” and “Greeks” when speaking to the ignorant (that would be you).

LOL. One of these blithering idiot Greeks would call me “ignorant”? Too funny. Even funnier that you would do it for the idiots.

Secondly, you need to worry more about your own country because based on our deficit & the polls on Obama’s job approval, at least 45% of this country looks even dumber than the Greeks.

Dark Star on June 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM

“DON’T CALL THEM GREEKS!!!” Or are you trying to be ignorant, too?

And the condition of America (that’s not the real name of this country, you know, but it’s what we often use … ignorant, I know) has nothing to do with the amazing contrast between the ancient Greeks and the sad, sorry pathetic population that occupies that land today. Our nation would have to change its name if the Dog-Eater gets re-elected because it will no longer be America (again, not the name, but I’m ignorant and all) and will be a slap in the face of the genius Founders of this nation. Yes, it already is, but there is still a sliver of hope that we can return to our NO-PARTY Constitution.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

the long term solutions have to involve either separate currencies or one political sovereign in Europe, and that is exactly what the varied cultures and peoples of Europe have spent millennia fighting to prevent.

amazing that the countries of Europe fought wars, even world wars to avoid giving up their autonomy and that now they have voluntarily headed down that path.

cheetah2 on June 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Anybody seen George Soros lately? Would anyone really be surprised if he ruined another currency and made billions off it?

reddevil on June 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Unfortunately that’s one thing we can rely on this evil SOB for.

slickwillie2001 on June 18, 2012 at 1:11 PM

First of all, the actual name for Greece is Hellas (Ελλάς), not Greece — that is the Turkisk name for the country & that is the name the rest of the world goes by, but that isn’t the proper name for it. Greek people only use the term “Greece” and “Greeks” when speaking to the ignorant (that would be you).

Secondly, you need to worry more about your own country because based on our deficit & the polls on Obama’s job approval, at least 45% of this country looks even dumber than the Greeks.

Dark Star on June 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Doesn’t “Greece” came from the Latin “Graecia”?

Minor point, i know…

madne0 on June 18, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Dark Star on June 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM

In your hysterical rant, you neglected to address the GREEKS’ idiotic protests and threats of war against Macedonia if they didn’t change their name. Did you miss that, forget it, not know about it, or just decide that foaming at the mouth over the name Greece uses on the international scene (and as is recorded for the ancient Greeks in most books) was more important than addressing the Greeks’ own obsession with names – so much so that they threatened WAR. You know what “war” is, right? I concede that a threat of war by these Greeks isn’t really scary, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

You had nothing to say about that, though. Calling me ignorant (and everyone outside of Greece who uses the name “Greece” … which means everyone, essentially) was the key. Threatening war over a name is cool in your book. And then calling others ignorant is the intellectual way to go.

Okey doke.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on June 18, 2012 at 1:43 PM

“Center-right” in Europe means anything to the right of blatant Socialism. Just watch Boris Johnson’s interview with Fareed Zakaria this past Sunday. In an strange twist, ND is actually the party that wishes to completely abdicate Greece’s sovereignty to a supranational body, whereas Syriza, at least in word, wishes to begin the painful but inevitable process of decoupling Greece from the Eurozone. No way to tell if Syriza was just bluffing while expecting bailouts to be forthcoming anyway, but based on what they claim to want their election would have ended the can-kicking so that Greece can begin to deal the the reality of the predicament they are in. That said, their plans to nationalize virtually all major industries will, of course, create another can to kick eventually, but at least it will be Greece’s own can this time.

http://www.fiscalwars.wordpress.com

stout77 on June 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

“Center-right” in Europe means anything to the right of blatant Socialism. Just watch Boris Johnson’s interview with Fareed Zakaria this past Sunday. In an strange twist, ND is actually the party that wishes to completely abdicate Greece’s sovereignty to a supranational body, whereas Syriza, at least in word, wishes to begin the painful but inevitable process of decoupling Greece from the Eurozone. No way to tell if Syriza was just bluffing while expecting bailouts to be forthcoming anyway, but based on what they claim to want their election would have ended the can-kicking so that Greece can begin to deal the the reality of the predicament they are in. That said, their plans to nationalize virtually all major industries will, of course, create another can to kick eventually, but at least it will be Greece’s own can this time.

http://www.fiscalwars.wordpress.com

stout77 on June 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Minor point of order – Syriza merely wants to pretend to be independent while they want the rest of the world to pretend that Greece will eventually repay an even larger no-strings-attached bailout.

Sort of like the Communists back in the day, where the workers pretended to work and the government pretended to pay them.

Steve Eggleston on June 18, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Here’s the logistical problem in Greece.

You need 151 for a bare majority in a 300 seat parliament.

ND has 129 seats. That’s a good start.

SYRIZA has 71 seats, they’re leftists and far leftists.

PASOK is the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. They’re leftists, 41 seats.

Then you have the Independent Greeks, which is a breakaway movement of ND. Can they work with ND? Let’s assume they can. That’s 20 seats plus 129… ooh, so close. 149, still need two more seats or its a minority government.

Golden Dawn are neo-Nazis with 18 seats. Democratic Left are sort of a PASOK splinter, 17 seats. Then the Communists have 12 seats.

So, there you have it. A rational conservative government really isn’t possible, but at least PASOK is a party without a whole lot of principles anymore, since the majority of SYRIZA voters are the harder part of their base.

Red Cloud on June 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM

If memory serves, PASOK won’t join a government that doesn’t include their fellow leftists Syriza, so that’s out. That also limits New Democracy to 149 seats without Golden Dawn, who is only “European Right” because they are neo-Nazis.

On the other side, the 4 European Leftist parties can only get to 141. Even though Golden Dawn is closer to them economically than it is to New Democracy and Independent Greeks, that double-N stigma also prevents the European Leftists from bringing them into a coalition.

Steve Eggleston on June 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM

Ed – Just a clarification, no “new” government can help them. The parties their all know the score and it’s pure posturing to see who can take the most heat when it falls apart (and it will because mathematically has to). For example, you have Golden Dawn trying to foist blame on immigrants… yea, right. Like they made the retirement age what it is and all the other grotesque excesses spent.

All that is going on now is the banks need to keep them floating along so their (ECB) banker buddies get paid for the paper they hold. Any combination that keeps them from erecting the middle finger to the EU is welcome news to the EU for that reason. Ed, you of all people should know better than buying into the MSM narrative that all will be well if they just knuckle under and get a coalition government. Faster they suck it up, pull an Iceland and emerge better for it, the better.

SkinnerVic on June 18, 2012 at 4:52 PM