Apparently believing the devil you don’t know is better than the one you do, Greeks seem perched to elect – probably early next year – the Coalition of the Looney Left (SYRIZA), a motley crew of radicals, anarchists, Communists, Maoists, Stalinists, Trotskyites and all-around just-shy-of-cuckoos.
With SYRIZA leading Prime Minister and New Democracy Capitalist leader Antonis “Mr. Bean Counter” Samaras’ party in the polls – and his coalition partner the PASOK Anti-Socialists heading for the dustbin of history – the Leftists can force early national elections if they succeed in blocking the ruling parties choice for a symbolic Greek President in February, 2015.
That requires 180 votes in the 300-member Parliament but New Democracy has 127 and PASOK only 28, leaving the Administration 28 short. Unless Samaras can jawbone some Independent lawmakers and those who may be on the fence, and twist some arms, SYRIZA may get its way and plunge Greece back into chaos, just as it was emerging from it.
When he won a second round of elections in June, 2012, Samaras had to turn to PASOK and the tiny, irrelevant Democratic Left (DIMAR) to have enough votes to control Parliament. That made PASOK leader Evangelos “Opportunist” Venizelos get rid of any principles and scruples he had left after selling out the party as did his predecessor, George Papandreou.
It also led DIMAR leader Fotis “Uncle” Kouvelis, a former Communist, to become a shill for the austerity measures that were being imposed by the government on the orders of international lenders.
He finally walked last year after Samaras fired all 2,653 workers at the now-defunct national broadcaster ERT, on five minutes notice, so the government could reconstruct a new station and patronage dump, NERIT, where the Prime Minister and his cronies control the show and won’t cover SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras when he speaks, just like in dictatorships.
Venizelos, who’s made a career out of public disservice, didn’t blink at the firings and back them, earning himself the positions of Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister, working for a man whose party is the antithesis of what PASOK allegedly represents.
Venizelos, who can smell an opportunity better than a bloodhound chasing a fugitive, said that Greece is destined not to have a single ruling party anymore. It sure won’t be his because between Papandreou and him PASOK has gone from 44 percent of the vote in 2009 to around 5 percent now, and that’s being generous.
Venizelos said he wouldn’t work with New Democracy, but he did. He’s said he would never work with – which means for – SYRIZA, but if the Leftists prevail he’ll sign on faster than a French collaborator in WW II, which he is.
That’s what Greek coalitions are, and will be: an alignment of parties with alleged political differences but where politicians set aside all their differences and dignity to stay in power, be ministers and – like New Democracy’s Dimitris Avramopoulos – a spot on the European Commission.
Venizelos is going to have sharpen his elbows now though because Avramopoulos, sensing a SYRIZA win, has said he wouldn’t rule out a coalition between New Democracy and it mortal enemy.
Tsipras has mocked Samaras, who in turn has belittled his opponent. But if New Democracy doesn’t want to go the way of PASOK for backing big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, the Conservatives would be willing to be underlings to SYRIZA.
Avramopoulos is learning from Venizelos and said he’d be willing to work with the Leftists, a group that New Democracy despites more than Maynard G. Krebs hated work.
When asked by Sunday’s Kathimerini whether it is possible that the two parties could find themselves in the same government, Avramopoulos said it could happen, but didn’t give the real reason why – so that he and his fellow pols could keep cushy jobs.
“In a democracy the possible is defined by whatever the people decides,” he said. “Politicians and parties have a duty to find the most conducive and democratic road to adopt the people’s mandate.”
Translation: we want to keep our jobs and would work with the devil to keep them. Avramopoulos is already greasing the skids. In one of his last acts as Defense Minister, he met with Tsipiras because he said it was his “institutional duty” to brief the opposition leader.
He wouldn’t have done it if SYRIZA was languishing in PASOK territory in the polls. And trying to act statesmanlike, Avramopoulos said he’s a man who can bridge divides, a sideways slap at Samaras who didn’t say anything about a coalition with SYRIZA.
“As a politician I have for a long time found myself on the other side from those who want polarization and petty political confrontation,” he said, giving a definition of Tsipras, Samaras and Venizelos.
Tsipras has other ideas. He’s already gotten the support of the conspiracy rightists of Panos Kammenos’ marginal Independent Greeks (ANEL) to try to block election of a President. Kammenos is working with work with his political rivals so that he, too, can be a minister and have some power and TV time.
That portents a possible other coalition: SYRIZA-ANEL-PASOK, because these guys would do anything to feel important, although Greeks would find out pretty fast that Tsipras can’t govern a periptero and won’t be able to walk away from the country’s loans. Misery loves company and makes strange bedfellows indeed.