Greece: The new government of Alexis Tsipras shows its colors

Alexis Tsipras President of SYRIZA (on the left) visited the European Central Bank and met with Mario Draghi. He also met with Jörg Asmussen, Board Member of ECB from 1 Jan 2012 till 8 Jan 2014 (on the right). Asmussen is presently vice-Minister of Labour of the German Federal government and a regular interlocutor to Tsipras. (ECB Audiovisual Services 19 September 2013).

Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece and President of SYRIZA (on the left) in September 2013 visited the European Central Bank and met with Mario Draghi. He also met with Jörg Asmussen, Board Member of ECB from 1 Jan 2012 till 8 Jan 2014 (on the right). Asmussen is presently vice-Minister of Labour of the German Federal government and a regular interlocutor to Tsipras. (ECB Audiovisual Services 19 September 2013).

Alexis Tsipras, the new Prime Minister of Greece and leader of the radical militant left SYRIZA party, who won last Sunday’s legislative election with a 36.34% of the vote and fell short of an absolute majority by two seats in a Parliament of 300, presented on Tuesday his new awkward coalition government. He had promised a small agile administration of ten ministries, but he named one deputy PM, sixteen full ministers, twenty-one alternate ministers and five vice-ministers. The gauche character of the new government lies mainly on the fact that its minor partner ANEL is a nationalistic, xenophobic and religious bigot small party. The only connecting material between SYRIZA and ANEL is their common rhetoric against austerity.

SYRIZA and Tsipras had to choose a junior government partner in order to secure support from a solid Parliamentary majority, and form a viable administration. The offer was not small. The once mighty socialist PASOK gained a miserable 4.8% of the vote last Sunday, translating into 13 deputies and had not excluded possible government cooperation with SYRIZA. PASOK formed or participated in all governments of the past five years and paid a massive political cost, stemming from severe austerity and the unpopular groundbreaking reforms.

More options

Equally willing to cooperate with SYRIZA in a coalition government appeared a new-comer in the Greek political spectrum, The River. This is a ten month old party under its TV persona leader Stavros Theodorakis, who managed to gain 6.05% of the ballot and 17 deputies. He also left to be understood that his party could cooperate with SYRIZA in a government coalition.

Instead, Tsipras choose to cooperate with Panos Kamenos’s ANEL party (4.75% of the vote and 13 deputies). This is an extreme right-wing, chauvinist, anti-immigrant, Europhobic and friend of UKIP group. Kamenos has repeatedly voiced anti-Semitic views and described the neo-Nazi ‘Golden Down’ party as ‘a patriotic group’. This last GD group, with its leadership in jail accused of forming a criminal gang, gained the third place in last Sunday’s election, with 6.28% of the vote and 17 seats in the Parliament, shaming the Greek voters.

GD together with SYRIZA, ANEL and the Greek Communist Party, all form the absolutist anti-Memorandum populist camp of the Greek political spectrum. To be reminded that Greece has been applying an extremely unpopular and wrong in many respects severe austerity and reform program for the past five years, as imposed by two consecutive Memoranda of Understanding, signed between the country and its creditors/auditors. At the exception of the Communist Party, all the other populist political formations including SYRIZA, were created or became relevant after 2011.

The new government

Coming back to the new Greek government, SYRIZA activists are holding all the ministerial positions at the exception of the Ministry of Defense, where Panos Kamenos is to reign. His initial statement as new Minister was that his first ‘duty’ will be to increase the remuneration of all members of the armed forces. The generosity was not restricted in the uniformed public sector staff. The Minister of Interior George Katrougalos stated that the government will reinstate thousands of public sector workers who were made redundant during the past five years, in an always overpopulated and unproductive public administration.

The third and most important first day reverse of policy announced by the new government was voiced by Nikos Kotzias, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs. He let it be known during the brief ceremony of his inauguration. He said that Greece doesn’t agree any more with the European Union strategy over the Ukrainian question, thus breaking a long practice of unanimity on all relevant EU decisions.

First clouds

Kotzias also let the world know that the new Athens government disagrees with the tough EU measures against Russia. Then he commented that Greece would not yield anymore to pressures in this front because of her over-indebtedness. He concluded that Greece doesn’t support the latest European Council tough statement condemning Russia, over her support of East Ukrainian separatists. The statement was reluctantly supported by the previous Greek minister of Foreign Affairs Evagelos Venizelos, who was in office until last Tuesday afternoon. The announcement referred to the latest murderous assault of separatists against Mariupol.

Incidentally, the unanimity over European Union’s severe stance against Moscow in relation to Ukraine, is not so solid as it looks or as Donald Tusk, the President of Council says it is. Apart from Greece, other EU member states like France, Italy and Cyprus have expressed reserves about it. Even Germany has second thoughts.

New policies

One more reversal of policy was announced by Tasos Kourakis, the alternate minister of Education. In relation to the higher education he said that all restrictions on re-enrolments are to be abolished and students will be able to register for limitless years. Kourakis also announced key changes of the examination system concerning the two last grades of secondary education. And this in the middle of the schooling year.

All that is a first taste of what is to follow. The problem is though that the government has no time to spare. They have just four weeks to come to terms with Eurozone and solve the predicament of the financial coverage of the country. The ‘technical’ extension of the current Memorandum of Understanding expires on 28 February. This is the program which against auditing offers financial relief to Greece from its Eurozone peers and liquidity from the European Central Bank. It may prove vital if the withdrawal of bank deposits exceeds some limits.

Which program?

The ECB has stated that the Greek banks and consequently the entire country can count on her liquidity injections for as long as Greece is “under a program”. However Alexis Tsipras has stated that Greece will not ask for an extension of the current or the introduction of anything that resembles a Memorandum. If this stalemate is resolved the next one will come in four months. However, in June the impasse will be final, in the sense that if Greece and Eurozone do not come to terms, the country will go bankrupt in summer and beg to abandon the Eurozone.

All in all, Alexis Tsipras and his SYRIZA comrades may try to reverse some crucial choices made by the last four governments, but they have the moral obligation to inform the citizens about the cost of every U-turn.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Sahel States need international support ‘now more than ever’– UN peacekeeping chief

Mali’s ‘self-defence’ groups must face justice, after deadly intercommunal attacks

How drones can manage the food supply chain and tell you if what you eat is sustainable

Coronavirus: Commission approves new contract for a potential COVID-19 vaccine with Novavax

Trump’s Russian affair spills over and upsets Europe

New forms of work: deal on measures boosting workers’ rights

Hiring is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Except Poland, can climate change also wait until 2021 for the EU Market Stability Reserve to be launched?

UK: Customs Union with EU or a longer delay of Brexit

Here’s how businesses can make the circular economy a reality

A young student discusses the determinants of migration in the European Union

Arlington, USA: kick-off of the fifth round of the EU-US boxing match

Mergers: Commission waives the commitments made by Takeda to obtain clearance of its acquisition of Shire

EU boosts sustainable cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon

The hazards of “heroism” in the time of COVID-19

Working together to end the AIDS-HIV pandemic

Migration crisis update: What are the chances of a fair deal at this EU Summit?

How bad is the Eurozone economy? The ECB thinks too bad

Draghi hands over to banks €77.7 billion more

Eurostat confirms a dangerously fast falling inflation in Eurozone

Australian homes are turning to solar power in record numbers

The revenge of the fallen

Bosnia and Herzegovina: EU allocates additional €3.5 million to support vulnerable refugees and migrants

Venezuela: ‘Shocked’ by alleged torture, death of navy captain, UN human rights chief urges ‘in-depth’ investigation

EU budget: Commission helps prepare new Cohesion programmes with Regional Competitiveness Index and Eurobarometer

Bias in AI is a real problem. Here’s what we should do about it

The digital building blocks of better communities

Border management: Commission welcomes political agreement towards making European Travel Information and Authorisation System operational

Electronic cigarettes – The alternative we’ve been looking for?

FROM THE FIELD: Balancing act for Philippines farmers

How Bangladesh’s leaders should respond to the economic threats of COVID-19

How to ensure fair AI throughout the supply chain

Commission launches the Fit for Future Platform and invites experts to join

Nigeria: Armed conflict continues to uproot thousands, driving up humanitarian need

Continue reforms to make growth work for all in Spain

Here’s how to rebut the climate doom-mongers

Quarantine: A mental health guide for every mood

Rule of law: First Annual Report on the Rule of Law situation across the European Union

Further reforms can foster more inclusive labour markets in The Netherlands

‘Education transforms lives’ says UN chief on first-ever International Day

Vienna has the world’s best quality of living

Primary Care: a way to provide Palliative Care in Universal Health Coverage

Team Europe: Digital4Development Hub launched to help shape a fair digital future across the globe

Deal reached on EU fund to help regions and businesses adapt to Brexit

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

It is impossible to end HIV without SRHR

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

Work to make the world a better place: 5 things you need to know about ‘green jobs’

The right approach to addressing overcapacity problem from a Chinese perspective

Central Asia: the European Union matches political commitment with further concrete support

Plans to keep EU budget funding in 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

MWC 2016 LIVE: Gamelab founder talks Apple TV, VR and monetisation

SPB TV @ MWC14: The TV of the Future

ILO and EIB join forces for more and better quality employment

Rural women a ‘powerful force’ for global climate action: UN Secretary-General

Click and Download: your app is ready to help you save lives

Uzbekistan wins its long fight against malaria, as global rates continue to rise

State aid: Commission approves €73 million of Italian support to compensate Alitalia for further damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s