|Press Watch, Apr 10|
The latest pre-election survey places Pasok a mere four percentage points behind News Democracy. The GPO/Mega poll also found that Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos is best qualified for the post of prime minister.
The findings are the best example of the fluidity of the political system. Most would consider it truly amazing that the party that dragged Greece into the clutches of the IMF – slashing wages and pensions – is so close to the party that is in the first place in the polls.
What is most noteworthy, however, is the fact that the two biggest parties have record low polling numbers – 18 percent for New Democracy and 14 percent for Pasok. That means that the electorate is determined to punish with a vengeance the parties they blame for the economic disaster. It also means, to the dismay of the EU-IMF creditors, that the two big parties might not garner a parliamentary majority.
ND leader Antonis Samaras is paying dearly for his spectacular flip flop. After over a year of unleashing vitriolic attacks against the bailout memorandum, he became a backer and apologist for the second memorandum, which is widely viewed as worse than the first, as it slashes wages and pensions, allows for the seizure of state assets, and totally deregulates labour relations.
The seamen’s strike Tuesday and Wednesday captured broad attention, as the press roundly criticised the strikers because their action would be yet another blow for tourism. Aside for the total deregulation of labour relations by the troika and the government – at the behest of Greek business, many believe – the practice of bashing labour action as irresponsible and blasting unions for allegedly having accrued too many privileges is a key element of the EU-IMF bailout era.
Fortunately, the government decided against a civil mobilisation of mariners, as such a measure could cause serious civil unrest at a time that Greek society is a veritable tinderbox.
Monday’s parliamentary vote to grant political parties a future instalment of their guaranteed state funding also garnered intense media attention.
Though it passed by a fairly narrow majority, the new law was seen as further evidence that the most powerful union with the most outlandish perks and privileges is the Greek parliament itself. Suffice it to say that that the parties until now received large bank loans, using their future state funding as collateral.
“The damage was done, the PNO [seamen’s union] insists” declared Kathimerini’s headline. The paper reported that the government is prepared to get tougher if the strike drags on beyond Wednesday night.
“Intense annoyance in Pasok over Yiannis Ragousis” read another title, regarding the alternate defence minister, who decided to abstain from the vote on party funding and blasted the bill. His colleagues viewed him as holier than thou. Undoubtedly, they think that he wants to create a clean hands image so as to gain electoral advantage. Most Pasok MPs will not be re-elected, if current polls are accurate, so the competition between them is intense.
“In the socket from DEI [Public Power Corporation]” declared Ta Nea’s headline. The story said that electricity prices will be deregulated in 2013, leading to skyrocketing electric prices. “How the KKE [Communist Party] imposed the seamen’s strike” read another title, referring to charges by Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou.
“[IMF Chief Christine] Lagarde-[German Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schaeuble set the line for elections” read another title. The two appeared on famed American TV news magazine 60 Minutes, and they had very interesting views about the Greek election.
Lagarde, in an outburst of Gallic gall, suggested that Greeks should not vote for smaller parties. Schaeuble, with exemplary German diplomacy, referred to the election as an “obstacle”, the paper reported.