If you want another reason to be pessimistic about Greece, take a look at the shameful wrangling over cabinet post during an emergency.  Do you think these petty, disgusting people will be able to stick to reforms in the face of resistance from entrenched interests and the loathing of a populace that rightly sees them as supremely selfish and incompetent crooks?  Actually,  maybe, but I wouldn’t be on it.  You’ll notice the presence of a party called the Democratic Left.  This was a group that splintered from SYRIZA.  Basically the Democratic Left believes that politics cannot permanently override mathematics.  They want a larger state than PASOK and New Democracy, and a more rigid labor market (or better worker protections is a more charitable way to put it), but they also want to stay in the Eurozone so they are willing to reach some compromise with Greece’s creditors. 

The Democratic Left isn’t necessary to a governing coalition.  They only have 17 seats in Parliament.  The conservatives of New Democracy have 129 and the socialists of PASOK have 33.  The conservatives and socialists don’t need the Democratic Left to form a coalition and the coalition would fall if either New Democracy or PASOK dropped out.  The main reason for having the Democratic Left has to do with popular legitimacy.  Having the Democratic Left allows the socialists of PASOK to say (Hey, look, even the Democratic Left are in the coalition so this means we aren’t all just a bunch of capitalist tools.”  It also means that a three party coalition got almost 50% of the popular vote instead of the about 42% of just PASOK and New Democracy.  I think this misunderstands legitimacy under present circumstances.  No one is going to be more okay with unemployment over 20% and ever more GDP contraction because the Democratic Left is backing the government.  The key is quickly  implementing sound policy and riding out the storm until the economy recovers.  Think Scott Walker (only different.)  A three party coalition will also make agreeing on policy that much harder, and if the Democratic Left decides to bolt, that will put pressure on PASOK to leave to protects its left flank.

More on: Politics, Greece

Articles by Pete Spiliakos

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