photograph Greek elections: Short-lived celebrations?

Comment by Dr Panos G. Piperopoulos, Newcastle University Business School

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What, if anything, has changed for Greece and the Greeks?

Do the Euro zone leaders have adequate reasons to celebrate the fact that a pro-austerity party, getting close to 30% of the vote, finished first in Sunday’s National elections in economically-troubled Greece?
Mr. Samaras received the constitutional mandate, on Monday, and has just formed a coalition Government with socialist party of PASOK, and the moderate leftist party of Demokratiki Aristera.

The coalition will have to reckon with the second party SYRIZA with its young President Alexis Tsipras, who vowed on Sunday night to fight the coalition Government while it implements more austerity actions foreseen by the bail-out memoranda.

A turbulent time is still ahead. 

So what have the elections shown the political parties about the Greek zeitgeist?

• Despite the appeals for recognition of the severity of the situation, and desperate calls for a mass participation in Sunday’s national elections, nearly 40% of Greeks abstained from voting preferring to sun-tan and swim.

• Of the 60% who participated, it turns out that more than 50% voted for parties that are against the current austerity measures, and the bail out memoranda agreed to by the socialists of PASOK, the conservatives of New Democracy and far right LAOS that failed to gain entrance to the Parliament.

• Mr Samaras of New Democracy, who was originally against the austerity measures, later “turned around” and co-signed them, and pushed vehemently for the May 6 elections.  After this election failed to have a clear winner, it led to the June 17 elections, and is expected to form a coalition Government with PASOK that ruled the country until recently, and received a poor 13% of the votes.

• After several months of political instability, and inactivity Mr Samaras will act as Prime Minister replacing Mr Papandreou and governing Greece in a game of, what can only be described as, musical chairs where instead of PASOK and New Democracy, the coalition will now be New Democracy and PASOK (with the ‘help’ of Dimokratiki Aristera).

• Mr Samaras was quick to announce on Sunday that he will honour his signature on the latest Bailout Plan and thus any plan of major renegotiations (which Germany wouldn’t accept anyway) has been written off.

• Statistical data about the Greek economy, for example growth/decline figures, GDP, unemployment rates, industrial production, imports vs exports, suggest that in the first six months of 2012, the Greek economy and the government’s plans are already far behind and below the projected and estimated targets which means that more austerity measures will need to be implemented immediately.

So, what exactly has changed following Sunday’s elections for the future of my homeland Greece?
In my opinion - absolutely nothing, it is definitely going to be short-lived celebration for the country. And, the markets have already diagnosed what the Greek voters did yesterday: they simply delayed the unavoidable.

published on: 20th June 2012