Monday, 13 February 2012

Minority Rule in Parliament; Mob Rule Outside

Parliament’s uproarious debate ended in a victory the government may not have dared hope for, winning almost two thirds of the 300 seat legislature, even though it aimed for only an absolute majority of 151.

The Greek finance minister can now go to the eurogroup on Wednesday armed with a powerful legislative endorsement and, hopefully, signed commitments from the two party leaders to see through the controversial austerity package. It will cut minimum wage by 22 percent and eliminate 150,000 jobs from the public sector.

This seal from parliament may help alleviate some people's concerns about the legitimacy of this government to impose further austerity. But that boon was counterbalanced by the cost of the vote. The socialists and conservatives who form the governing coalition also suffered defections and abstentions from the party line. Some 43 MPs were punished with dismissal from the two parties, while two dismissals came from right-wing Laos. (Laos had been part of the governing coalition intil Friday, when its leader, Yiorgos Karatzaferis, declared he would instruct his 16 MPs to vote down the austerity package he had a hand in negotiating). This means that parliament now has more independent MPs than at any other time in the four decades since democracy was restored. These can now be expected to campaign, as backbenchers, against austerity. New Democracy alone shed about a quarter of its seats.

The coalition was formed after the socialist government suffered so many defections in November last year over its leader's controversial idea of holding a referendum over the second bailout, that it needed conservative support to legitimise the second bailout plan. But the socialists and conservatives, who won a total of 77 percent of the vote in 2009, today poll a mere 30-odd percent. The socialists' drop has been particularly precipitous, from 44 percent to eight or nine. Since it is their mandate the entire coalition is based on, there is an increasingly strong current of public opinion in favour of elections now - some 61 percent according to a poll published in To Paron today. That is a sharp upturn from last year, when most Greeks wanted stability rather than the roller coaster of a hung parliament.

Outside, on the streets of Athens, the government's legitimacy was called into question more strongly. Close to 100,000 peaceful marchers convened on Syntagma square before parliament, and central avenues.They were soon overshadowed by violent protesters.

After a battle outside parliament lasting hours, police reclaimed control of Athens’ central square. They sent tens of thousands of peaceful marchers scurrying down central avenues. Disguised among them went the violent demonstrators, creating a diaspora of destruction. At least two banks were set to the torch, their steel portcullises prised open, their computers visible smouldering inside. Throughout the centre streets were covered with the gravel of smashed plate glass and broken marble that had been ripped off the front of buildings to be used as missiles against police. As many as 50 demonstrators were reportedly lightly wounded. As lawmakers emerged from parliament, many called for the resignation of the public order minister.

The parliamentary vote was as follows:
278 MPs voted in total
199 voted yes in principle to the measures
74 voted no
5 voted present


  1. Thankyou for this, John. Please tell us about what you think the far right Laos and (Chrysy Avgi) are going to do. Should we foreigners pack and leave, as my Greek friends keep telling me?

  2. Penny, I would most emphatically tell you NOT to pack up and leave. What a ridiculous notion. Chrysi Avgi is polling 3 percent, and Laos have just made complete fools of themselves and are likely to suffer a decline in influence. Greece is still a tolerant and humane nation - perhaps much more so than many northern European countries.

  3. A good article for the uninitiated,giving a realistic view. Here is my nitty-gritty view as to why things are becoming surrealistic:
    Interest kills

    It is now a hard economic fact that the more odious interest that Greece repays to usurious bankers, the smaller the economy becomes, the more jobs are lost, and the more poverty and suicides there are. This is because Greece was never ready to join the Euro in the first place, and is now paying for membership of a club it cannot afford to participate in, and never could. A little further analysis explains the illogicality, bordering on stupidity, of what is happening: those with transparent salaries are being impoverished not only with drastic salary cuts, but with illegal taxes. Those who succumb to the blackmail and threats are in fact helping the cleptocratic occupation government to maintain a system leading to ever-increasing impoverishment, as the money to buy even food starts to dry up. As for the so-called property tax being linked to electricity bills, this is an example of criminality. Even those who have paid the electricity part of this ‘tax’ are now being threatened with their electricity being cut off. Demanding money with menaces is a crime punishable with prison in, at least, Britain, as Section 21(1) and(2) of the Theft Act of 1968 and Section 17(1) of the Criminal Justice(Public Order) Act of 1994 make abundantly clear. In other words, whoever voted for this measure is a criminal, since there must surely be a Greek law against demanding money with menaces. Moreover, paying this ‘tax’, by reducing purchasing power, actually leads to further poverty.

    Most hypocritical of all is the lip-service paid by the criminal party-politicians to reducing the size of the civil service. We have seen how the so-called measures have created hardly a dent in the party-political armour of the unions, which continue to protect those given jobs illegally by the politicians in return for support in various elections. In other words, the corrupt and discredited political parties are still seeking to ensure that they keep their support, by granting favours. And the longer those MP’s remain in parliament, the worse it becomes. This explains why the cleptocracy keeps delaying the election date.

    It is obviously in the cleptocracy’s and the bankers’ interests to create a climate of paranoia about leaving the Euro, since they would be the main ones to lose out. But it was a crime to join the Euro in the first place. The longer Greece remains in it, the bigger the crime becomes. Greece must leave, return to the drachma, and create its own independent economic relations with countries such as Russia and China, as well as with individual European countries, thereby establishing vérité des prix, to use a Gaullist term. Otherwise, the junta will introduce yet harsher measures.

    Dr. William Mallinson,


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