Eurozone finance ministers meeting Dec. 8 in Brussels are expected to reject any notion Greece can take an early exit from its bailout terms with international lenders.
Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras was keen to get out from under the harsh austerity terms what’s left of 240 billion euros ($306 billion) in two rescue packages from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
But a dispute with the lenders over a hole in the 2015 budget of up to three billion euros hasn’t been settled and Greece will have to take an extension of its memorandum that was due to expire at the end of the year.
The government and Troika are in a stand-off over how to close the gap with Samaras insisting there won’t be any more pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions or worker firings that have decimated support for New Democracy and its coalition partner the PASOK Socialists.
There was speculation that troika mission chiefs may return to Athens this week to resume talks with the government but it’s only talk so far.
The timing of an agreement with the Troika could also affect political developments with the possibility of presidential elections, due in February, being brought forward to January if a deal with the troika appears out of reach.
The ruling parties need 180 votes in the 300-member Parliament to get their man elected but together have only 155 votes, although 13 other Members of Parliament have said they are likely to go along with the government.
Otherwise, if the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) thwarts the elections then national elections will be called with the anti-austerity Leftists showing a lead.