Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Greece's PM Costas Karamanlis has called a snap general election, although no date has yet been set.

"I am seeking a fresh political mandate," Mr Karamanlis said on TV.

There had been speculation that the conservative prime minister would go to the polls early given the wafer-thin majority he has in parliament.

The government has been hit by a number of financial scandals and recent destructive wildfires have also hit its popularity.

This was expected ever since the Socialist Party (PASOK) announced that it would boycott the election of the new President of the Republic (elected by parliament), despite the fact that the conservatives were prepared to propose the current President, former PASOK cadre and Foreign Minister in the Andreas Papandreou cabinets in the 80s and 90s, Karolos Papoulias. This would thus force the dissolution of parliament in March 2010. It was rather unlikely that Karamanlis would choose to prolong the pre-electoral period for 6 months. He's moving forward despite his party's plunging popularity, which might result in the right's worst electoral result since 1981, possibly ever - with a surging xenophobic/fascist/populist right party however that might conceivably reach double digits. despite the fact that the past few months the government has been enacting their "law and order" and-immigrant and anti-refugee agenda fervently.

The left is in disarray (syriza), until literally yesterday embroiled in the most masochistic and petty of internal squabbles, or in eternal stasis (the communists: KKE - possibly the only parliamentary party in Europe to publically reendorse Stalin this year). The Greens seem at this point to be around the 3% required to enter parliament. The socialists are fairly certain to win, but the extent of their parliamentary majority or whether they will be able to form a government on their own is quite unclear. With ~20% of undecided voters and a high percent of uncertain voters (possibly leading to a low election-day turnout) the only thing that is given at this point is that the conservatives will lose big. It seems (barely) possible that SYRIZA and the Greens might run a joint electoral ticket, but the discussions haven't been on an official level thus far.

The economy (which is the pretext Karamanlis called early elections on) is imploding and it seems that the till recently relatively low intensity effects from the crisis are picking up as there is a series of potentially huge crises looming: one such catastrophe waiting to happen are postdated checks (which is the way most of the small and medium businesses are working nowadays) which amount to 1.5 times the country's GDP (at 360 billion euros) and noone has any clues as to how many will default, although there is a figure of 10% that seems a reasonable estimate. That is one of the time bombs that whoever wins will have to deal with...

The workers are getting restless as outside the relative stability of the public sector there growing precarity, rising unemployment and diminishing familial resources. I would expect that this whole house of cards is collapsing soon and Karamanlis decision might be just a ploy to leave the socialists to wrestle with stuff like the batshitinsane OECD policy recommendations... Note that the full force of worker protests is expected to occur near the 1-year anniversary of last December's riots, a combination which promises weeks of violent chaos in downtown Athens and major cities.

I will try to keep you posted, but (full disclosure) I will be involved in SYRIZA's electoral effort so I expect to be pretty busy this coming month...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Sep 2nd, 2009 at 05:35:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you turn this into a diary?

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.
by marco on Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 at 02:47:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will try later tonight!

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Sep 3rd, 2009 at 03:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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