A Test for Samaras as Greece Closes Down



Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ uneasy coalition government faces its toughest test this week when a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan aimed squarely at workers, pensioners and the poor goes to Parliament for a vote on Nov. 7, while Greeks are staging a 48-hour general strike that will shut down services, including mass transit.

Commuters face a hellish week of trying to get to work or wherever they need to go. Most public transit, on a staggered basis, will be shut Nov. 5-7, including the metro, buses, taxis, trams, trolleys, trains, ferry boats and air traffic controllers at Athens’ international airport said they will also conduct work stoppages.

Lawyers are striking for the entire week and prosecutors, already on strike, said they won’t come back to work until Nov. 18. With judges having earlier conducted work slowdowns, the country’s judiciary system, already with 10-year backlogs in some cases, has a mountain of work piling up.

Municipal workers protesting plans to slash over 3,000 jobs are expected to hold sit-ins at city halls, garbage truck depots and waste management facilities on Nov. 5, the same day that journalists are holding another strike and a decision on allowing limited metro services so that protesters can attend anti-austerity rallies in Athens is expected to be reached.

Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, is ruling with his otherwise rivals, the PASOK Socialist and tiny Democratic Left, giving them 177 of the 300 votes in Parliament, but defections are mounting and analysts expect that while the measures will pass, that as few as 153 to 157 lawmakers will support them.

That could give Samaras a short-lived victory as it will leave Greek society bitterly divided. The Premier, who campaigned against austerity measures, said he had no choice but to give in to the demands of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is putting up $325 billion in two bailouts. A $38.8 billion installment has been delayed until the reforms are approved and Samaras said Greece will run out of money on Nov. 16 unless they are.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is struggling to keep his fading party together in the wake of fury over his mishandling of a list of 2,059 Greeks with $1.95 billion in deposits in a Swiss bank that he didn’t check for tax evasion when he was finance minister in a previous government,  and some Socialist members said they will vote against the package.

The Democratic Left of Fotis Kouvelis, with 16 votes, could oppose it in en masse as well unless Samaras relents and eases harsh changes to labor laws. Otherwise, Democratic Left could leave the government, a prospect that could intensify pressure on Samaras and even threaten his administration.

The Samaras government, whose point man in negotiations with the Troika is Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras, is expected to stay in talks with his partners as well as the lenders right up to the last moment of voting, which will occur while Greeks are protesting in the streets. Labor unions called the strike, the fourth one in six weeks.

New Democracy has 127 lawmakers and PASOK has 33, but half of them last week voted against a plan to privatize state enterprises and sell or lease state properties and left the party, which has fallen to 6.5 percent of the vote, in a state of near-mutiny.

Venizelos, who strongly backs the austerity measures that are antithetical to the party’s principles, said he would eject from the party any of his members who vote against it. He abstained from the vote on privatization and didn’t take a stand, but chastised his MP’s who opposed it. Greek media reported that at least 26 PASOK MP’s will vote for the reform package, however, enough to create a slim majority.

Samaras has promised the austerity measures – another in a round that began in 2010 and have put nearly two million people out of work, closed 68,000 businesses and is shrinking the economy by 7 percent, would be the last but there are many skeptics. “It is easier for someone to believe in Father Christmas than to believe that these will be the last,” said Euclid Tsakalotos, a member of the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).

(Sources: Kathimerini, AP)

 

 

 


22 COMMENTS

  1. Again : It’s not possible for us to fire enough public workers and to reduce the public wages.

    So : We need the cheap Drachma to reduce imports and have more exports.This is the way to reduce unemployment.

  2. and the best olive oil in the world – even the Italians import it in bulk, as it is always better that theirs (I have been to Italian restaurants in New York which put Greek olive oil on the table). Greek wines have improved dramatically, and can compete in the U.S. and Europe in their price range. The problem with both of these exports is that we have never actively marketed our products well. We need to teach consumers about the quality/price ratio we have. 

  3. We need industry and technology.  Italy makes cars, appliances, and furniture.  We don’t even make bikes.  You can’t support the national on Olive oil and seasonal tourism.

  4. Well who has created this state of affairs? New Democracy and Pasok. Why would they be expected to do any different this time.

  5. Germans in 1930s were upset at their middle ground parties and started voting for extremist parties like communists and fascists. It made the situation far far worse than better.

  6. STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!

    They will give us more money if we strike because we are GREEK!

    Idiots. 

  7. Our leftists seem to think wealth grows on government money trees rather
    than coming out of the pockets of the producers in our society. I am most ashamed of being Greek when I listen to our leftists effectively demanding handouts from others to alleged “solve” our economic problems. 

    Despite out massive debt due to wildly overspending beyond our input,,,the “solution”  of leftist extremists (like Syriza  but even a few allegedly moderate leftists) is to continue to  go on and on about the “the elite”…”the banks”… “the Germans”… “the EU”… or anyone else that has money…. that i=they claim are to blame for their own incompetence and poverty.  They demand to live off the labours of others. No shame whatsoever.

  8.  And you can kiss this goodbye with all of the press the Golden Dawn is generating. No one will want to come to Greece if the streets are patrolled by those fat, stinking, bearded mamas boys.

  9. “Euclid” Tsakalotos. Ironic name. Given many in Syriza support communism he’s clearly not the brightest lightbulb,

    Not to say some rich people aren’t corrupt too but its getting tiring listening to leftists scapegoating the “the elite” for their personal economic problems…. while simultaneously abusing the system to leach off others.

    Blaming “the elite” is just a populist cop out by parasites that refuse to take take personal responsibility  for their own lives. Vote for me.I will give you free money… the “solution” of far leftist
    extremists like Syriza (and Pasok of the last 30 years)…. is effectively encouraging Greeks to see
    themselves as “victims” to some mysterious Illuminati force… rather than try and correct their own mistakes to be better people.

    As long as mountains of Greeks (mostly socialists and communists but even some allegedly moderate leftists) keep making excuses and demanding handouts from others…. rather than focusing on personal production…..Greece will continue to go nowhere but downhill.

  10. No major loss there. Tourism is a crappy industry and many of the visiteer that come to Greece come from nations that reference FYROM as “ethnic Macedonians’ (while pretending not to notice their sudden change into ancient Macedonians to cover up their shame for supporting them).

    Not to say this excuses the behavior of any XA extremists but there is plenty of racism against Greeks among some foreigners these days. Aside from many silently colluding with FYROM ultra nationalists as they once again attempt to eradicate Greeks with “Macedonian” word games… they constantly resort to hyperbole to dehumanize Greeks. (see the Greek hating trolls at the Guardian)

  11. You have it completely wrong.  I would rather tour Greece knowing that Golden Dawn was in control and was dealing with the violent third world primitives that the marxists thought they should import.  With Golden Dawn there is hope for Greece and I sincerely hope that it spreads to all of Europe and the USA for that matter.

  12. Hilarious.  The NSDAP turned Germany around and it became a leader in technology. 

  13. If the autorities let the massive illegal immigration continues, we can also say goodbye to the tourism industry. Don’t forget that many people were coming to Hellas because it was secure. If the illegal immigrants aren’t sent back to their home country, the security problem will be worse and if tourists get attacked several times, it will be then that we can say goodbye to our tourism industry.
    For example, I wouldn’t want to go in hollyday to a country like Britain after having heard that there are muslim gangs who rape teenage brithish girls while the police look the other way to not appear “racist”, after having seen reportages about violent muslim s protesting in the London streets and that in Britain there are sharia contolled zones and islamic tribunals.
    It’s countries like that who don’t protect their citizens and especially the vulnerable persons that I wouldn’t want to visit as a tourist.

  14. Some of the blame for Greece and its Politician’s blatant corruption falls upon the muted Press and TV media here who appears to be doing little or saying almost nothing about the
    criminal practices of the elites and MPs in Parliament (Vouli). One wonders why they are afraid to speak up and there is absolutely no sign of any serious investigative journalism here exposing or digging into these criminals illegal machinations.

    Unbelievable how the Greek Press are complicit in the ruination of their own country!

  15. Yes continue with strikes, when all companies and foreign investors move to Bulgaria and Romania where is even cheaper workforce and no strikes, then will be really good for those guys who protesting on streets, when you begin to import your tzatziki from Bulgaria for euro then you maybe understand what happened but then it will be too late.
    Country will be in bankruptcy, with worthless Drachma what hyper inflates every month. Then you really do not have other choice than clean up Crete Island from people and put it as loan collateral, I think Chinese and Russians will be ready to borrow you money what they know you do not pay back if as result they get Island (s) in Mediterranean Sea.

    Now you can borrow money officially from bank (Bank just need proof that you income and spending is big enough to pay back) other way is to borrow it from Chinese and Russian Mafia who do not care if you pay back as long as you have collateral like some big islands.

    Samaras said we do not have money in 16th. November. What part of no
    money you do not understand if you multiply zero it is still zero. You
    are mathematician. So you need to borrow money somewhere and who will
    borrow you money when you have Drachma and nobody really believes that
    you can pay it back because you overspending so to get loan you need to
    cut expenses i.e you are back in austerity , it is difficult to get loan
    even with EURO in play what chances do you have with Drachma. You
    needed to make quick cuts in 2009 when it was clear that things going
    bad and in 2012 you could have already stability like Estonia did.
    Instead this you decided to have contest ´´Who is biggest populist´´ and crime of those populist is that they told simple
    folk that there is some other way to solve this when there is no other
    way than get smaller salaries, keep country open for tourists 24/7 i.e.
    increase work efficiency, work more for less so that investors start to
    invest again and produce thing in Greece. After you had Socialist
    Paradise for so long you can take 5 years of pain considering that there
    are other members of Eurozone out there who living on even less than
    what lenders ask from you.

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