Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with two moves has changed the political landscape of the country but placed it on a risky path.
First, he accelerated elections for a new Greek President by two months. Second, he proposed as the Presidential candidate Stavros Dimas, a politician who should be supported by almost all the political forces in the country.
The Troika – that is German Chancellor Angela Merkel- we have learned, pressed Samaras to accelerate the date for Parliament’s vote for President. Nonetheless, it is a decision that suits the country ’s interests and it is likely to be good for him, too. But time will tell.
An important barometer, though, is that the Athens Stock Exchange reacted negatively to those decisions. On December 9, on one of its worst days ever, stocks fell by 12.78 percent.
Investors panicked. They foresee either political instability or SYRIZA ’s rise to power. The same picture of imminent political instability in Greece prevailed in the global media as well. They went back in remembering Greece again.
True, the homeland faces political volatility, with all the effects this could have on the fragile economy. But it does not necessarily mean that will happen. Samaras might be able to subdue such dangers.
However, to understand the phenomena in Athens it is not enough merely to monitor them. Instead, we must look at Athens from the perspective of Brussels. Since they hold the purse, they control developments, too.
How then, does Greece look from that perspective? From September onward, valuable time was lost as it was hoped that Brussels would make decisions based on the principle to “Stop Tsipras,” regardless of the situation in Greece.
That was the prevailing view a year ago, but it does not apply now. Samaras, it seems, could not deliver all what he promised.
That is how we arrived at the recent Athens-Troika negotiations in Paris, where a weak Greek delegation failed to secure the required agreement.
Instead, the Troika asked for Parliament to approve more than 10 new measures. Samaras obviously knew that was a practical impossibility. So, the Troika gave Greece an extension of two months so that the political landscape could be cleaned up.
For that reason, and only a few hours after the decision of an extension, Samaras announced the acceleration of the Presidential election. This two-month period – counting from December 29 – is sufficient time for general elections to be held if needed.
With regards to Samaras: if he is able to secure a Presidential election, then he becomes particularly strong. He will then have enough time for the economy to become stronger, thus increasing the likelihood of his re-election.
The big question, of course, is whether he has 180 members of Parliament – the number needed in the third ballot to elect a President. It seems like a difficult challenge at the moment.
Who knows, though, what is going on behind the scenes?