Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Papademos Receives Vote of Confidence But Disagreements Fester Inside Frail Coalition

The government of Loukas Papademos received a vote of confidence in parliament today. 255 MPs voted in favour, 38 against. Three deputies from the coalition broke with party discipline to vote against. Conservative Panos Kammenos was expelled from New Deomcracy, making him the second MP to suffer that fate in two days after Sotiris Hatzigakis. Pasok did not move to discipline Panayotis Kourouplis and Christos Katsouras.

Papademos already faces problems in releasing the 8bn euro instalment of the bailout. He asked the leaders of the three parties in his coalition to sign a letter saying they stand by the terms of the IMF and eurozone-sponsored bailout.

But the leader of the conservative New Democracy party – Antonis Samaras - is refusing to sign. Samaras’ signature is important for 2 reasons: Greece’s European creditors want his signature, because he has was in opposition to many of the country's austerity measures, saying they have made Greece’s recession worse and put people out of work. And Polls suggest he is set to become the next prime minister after elections that could take place as early as February.

Samaras earlier told the chamber that his party's membership in the coalition and voting record in parliamentary legislature carries more constitutional weight than his personal signature on a letter. In a populist note, he also called on the government not to carry out a threat to cut power to households that cannot pay a new property tax, being charged through electricity bills.

The comment from Samaras came after the Public Power Corporation's workers' union this morning cut power to the health ministry for half a day. The union, Genop, issued a proclamation saying the ministry owes over 3.8 million euro in unpaid bills. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. The government and broader public sector owe the power company a total of 141 million euro, the union says, a figure the PPC did not deny.

The company has slashed 328 million euro from its payroll in the last two years, under pressure from the government.

Genop is also incensed that the PPC's list of non-paying households is growing sharply after three years of recession. The government's decision to charge a new property tax through power bills has accelerated the blacklisting of households. Those unable to pay in 40 days are cut off. The union says households now owe 715 million euro, and fears that government policy will bankrupt the power company.


  1. Greek politicians, media, academia and opinion leaders should be ashamed for more or less ignoring (and hiding from the public) that this Task Force has been at work for nearly 3 months. It has published its 1st Report recently. The Task Force had been established by the EU so that its resources can be used by Greek authorities to meet 3 great challenges facing the country and Greek society:

    1. Supporting growth, employment and competitiveness.
    2. Enabling growth through reform of Greek public administration.
    3. Maintaining progress towards fiscal consolidation.

    The Task Force’s 1st Report outlines a multitude of initiatives which have been started already. Reviewing them, one can come to the conclusion that the noble goal which the Task Force sets out for itself in the Executive Summary can realistically be achieved, namely:

    The Task Force is a resource at the disposal of the Greek authorities as they seek to build a modern and prosperous Greece: a Greece characterised by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos.

    I am certain that the vast majority of Greeks would love to hear that there is hope for a Greece characterized by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos. I am even certain that the majority of Greeks would enthusiastically support such a project and contribute to it where they can.

    How should the Greek public find out about this project when neither politicians, media, academia nor opinion leaders discuss it intensively?

    Let’s assume for a moment the worst-case-scenario happens in Greece: complete collapse of the economic, financial and political systems. The return to a standard of living of decades ago and mass emigration above all of the younger generation would be consequences.

    If that happened, how would the present Greek generation justify to the younger one that they did have the opportunity to avoid that but they didn’t take advantage of it?

  2. Nothing from you for two weeks? I'm curious


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