ND-PASOK Alliance Takes The Reins

Greek PM (L) with Deputy PM Evangelos Venizelos: can their political marriage last?
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L) with Deputy PM Evangelos Venizelos: can their political marriage last?

Moving forward after the withdrawal of one of his coalition members, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras formulated a new alliance with the other coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists, in a new cabinet that gives his partner key ministerial positions.

Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, said the two-party government would be more cohesive and less divisive over reforms demanded by international lenders, especially with the appointment of PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

“This government doesn’t have a moment to lose,” Samaras told his new cabinet shortly after the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday (June 25th). “Stability is today more necessary than ever.”

He added, “Each of us has his own political beliefs, but the overriding ideology right now is saving the country.” The focus will be to move away from austerity and toward growth and reform, Samaras said.

Greece has also promised to shed 15,000 public-sector jobs by the end of next year to meet demands of the EU-IMF-ECB Troika, a condition that led Samaras to close national broadcaster ERT and fire all 2,656 workers.
That precipitated a crisis that seemed to threaten new elections, which would have been the third in little more than a year, when one of his partners, the Democratic Left (DIMAR), quit the government.

Venizelos, along with DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis, insisted Samaras restore ERT and bring back workers but accepted a compromise that could temporarily rehire as many as 2,000 workers until a replacement broadcaster is created, with 1,000 to 1,200 former ERT workers.

The ND-PASOK alliance has a bare majority of 153 seats in the 300-member parliament, but reportedly can count on a handful of the 14 Independents to go along with its plans, and perhaps even occasional support from DIMAR, Kouvelis said.

With PASOK lagging in polls with 4 to 5 percent, just above the 3 percent threshold needed to enter parliament, critics said Venizelos is focused on keeping himself in the limelight. He got the top jobs in the new government in a move that led to Samaras creating two more cabinet positions after promising to reduce the size of his administration.

Marios Evriveavis, a Professor of International Relations at Panteion University in Athens, said the alliance is a case of politics making strange bedfellows.  “There is mutual discomfort in both parties with New Democracy critics saying [Samaras] is resurrecting PASOK, and some PASOK people disappointed that Venizelos got the benefit. He took the plum positions,” Evriveavis told Southeast European Times.

The change in government comes as Troika envoys are set to return to Athens in July to review the pace of lagging reforms, including how to fill what could be a billion-euro hole in budget plans when the government failed to get a single bidder for its gas company DEPA in a privatization program.

Coupled with less-than-expected tax revenues, austerity measures imposed by the government on Troika orders have worsened a six-year recession and created a record 27.4 percent unemployment rate.

Antonis Klapsis, Head of Research at the Konstandinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy in Athens, told SETimes that, “Having a coalition government of New Democracy and PASOK is something new and quite challenging. The path is not full of roses, but I believe that they will try their best. They have only one alternative: to succeed. If they don’t, then the future of Greece won’t look very promising.”

It could be a tough sell to the Greek people, whose protests, strikes and riots against pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions brought down the previous government of George Papandreou, the former PASOK leader who was elected in 2009 with 44 percent of the vote but lasted only two years.

New Democracy and PASOK were blamed for creating the country’s crushing economic crisis and staggering debt by packing public payrolls with hundreds of thousands of needless workers for 40 years in return for votes.

The major opposition party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), said the new government won’t last the remaining three years of its term.  “The new cabinet is tailor-made for the policies of the memorandum [with the Troika] and for the government’s plans to complete the political plundering of incomes and the sell-off of public goods,” said SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.

Kostis Ifantis, an Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Athens, said political expediency will rule as much as the two parties. “It will work because of necessity,” he told SETimes of the alliance. “We have the people who brought the country to its knees, but the crisis hasn’t brought any new people to the fore,” he added.

(Used by permission of Southeast European Times, www.setimes.com)


  • Tonto

    Regarding the new coalition: “We have the people who brought the country to its knees, but the crisis hasn’t brought any new people to the fore.” –Kostis Ifantis.

    Exactly. So just who do you think those 1000-1200 rehires at ERT are going to be?

    Wonder if Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be using his very expensive office equipment and furniture in his new office (which he purchased for his old job). At 240,000 euros for the last expenditure he shouldn’t have to replace to many things. Then again, he might. As he knows in this land, image is everything for ministers. Performance and integrity are marginal.

  • worldarts

    READ THIS if you think PASOK & ND have changed after 37 years ruining Greece!!
    “Old Habits Die Hard”
    Kathimerini New – Friday June 28, 2013 (20:15)

    The two-party coalition government continues to appoint failed and fossilized
    politicians to important positions in the country’s civil service.

    Why they insist on promoting the bad over the good is simply inexplicable.

    The state, and especially the social security foundations and large organizations that have important tasks, need capable managers to run them, people with know-how and skills who can pull them into shape and get them operating efficiently and with transparency.

    The appointment of party lackeys to key posts achieves nothing more than
    further angering society, which has reached the end of its tether as far as such
    governance is concerned. After the sacrifices they have had to make, the people
    of Greece demand at the very least that the state implement meritocracy.

    It’s true that old habits die hard, but surely it is high time that we started pushing them aside.
    GET RID OF THESE SCUM PARTIES THAT ALSO OWE 250 Million Euros in bogus loans from their Bank cronies!!!!

  • worldarts

    Kyriakos and his sister Dora Misotakis were caught red-handed taking bribes from Siemen’s a year ago and then quicky tried to cover it up by paying back the money… What a bunch of BS from these “old Politicla family” Criminals !!

  • Alex

    Whatever the mistakes the middle ground parties have made the second place communist Syriza party you support is downright evil.

    Have you no shame for supporting a party that glamorizes the communist terrorists that massacred Greeks while trying to detach Macedonia from Greece for the sake of IMRO during the civil war? Or is that you aren’t Greek and just another Skopian troll trying to trick us?

  • Alex

    Right.. and let me guess…vote for communist extremists of Syriza that would give citizenship to millions of illegals and recognzize Skopians? T

    Are you sure you are Greek troll?

  • Alex

    Who do you support Tonto?

  • Alex

    You were caught red handed trying to trick Greeks on this website by handle swapping Mr Paul Johnston PhD.

    That’s FRAUD AND FARCE. Truly OUTRAGEOUS behavior. We should REVOLT. CRIMIINAL.

  • Alex

    Is anyone surprised that the loudest complainers of government cuts are usually the same people that depend heavily on the government in some fashion? If anyone believes they are doing it to help our country, rather than as a method to loot our country, there is a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. Someone that remotely cared about our country would be thinking not what he could take from it in a time of debt but what they personally could give to it.

    All austerity represents is our books being accurately balanced to reflect our output. Our far leftist fanatics cannot seem to comprehend basic economics. They think they are entitled to live like Swedes, Americans, Germans Israelis et al…but they don’t produce like them to economically justify such “generous” social spending on themselves.

    Where the Greek cars? Greek smartphones? Greek medicines? Greek consumer goods? Most Greeks would like to buy them but unfortunately they either don’t exist or are being sold at extravagant prices due to lack of productivity.

    Selling olive oil and trinkets to tourists at low waged unskilled jobs is hardly a way to create a high standard of living for our country. For that we need technology and a focus on business productivity. All the government money redistribution scams anti-business far leftist rioting/striking is the anti-thesis of what we need to be done. 100 equal distribution of nothing is still nothing.

  • Alex

    OMG. You are so right worldarts.

    We should close all those evil banks. Lets also throw rocks at police, set fire to the means of production, and murder pregnant bank tellers. That will feed the children and improve our economy.

    Who needs to actually focus on business that creates jobs and wealth. Businesses are evil. Lets just come to Greek Reporter every day and rant against the evil businesses like a cold war communist fanatics. .We should go back to living in caves. Its more natural.

  • Tonto

    Alex: There are so many bright, politically and economically astute Greeks who will never be given the reigns of this myopic, old-boy oligarchy. I support people who love their country and don’t just pay it lip sevice but throutgh their service, hard work and volunteerism have gained my tremendous respect–not the ship-owning (tax exempt), elitist, banking cronies, and hangers-on who have done everything in their power for the past 40 years to be the 10% who control 90% of the wealth in this country with little signs of helping it.

    The referendum over the past two years spoke clearly when the major political parties no longer carried the day through their usual demagoguery and false promises. The blatant coruption in this land is sickening and I suport no one who has anything previously to do with the past political system. I am hopeful the youth of this nation will send us some real dedicated contenders who will reign out of their meritocracy. Let’s hope they emerge from the bubbling sewers of what is called politics soon.

  • Alex

    The US actually has a higher ratio of wealth in fewer hands than Greece. They seem to be doing better than us. This is not the root problem. The root problem is not enough Greek focused on producing wealth and too many with their hands reaching out for someone else to give it to them. Nearly half our population are decidedly on the anti-business end of things, with about half of that in the realm of communist insanity.

    I agree the demagogury needs to stop but from what I can tell its mostly coming from supporters of party number 2 and 3. If a Greek is bright and hardworking, they don’t need the government to succeed. Even now their is plenty of opportunity for those interested in reaching for it (rather than those more interested in finger pointing excuses)