Greece: “Last chance” vote a Pyrrhic victory
8 November 2012
To Vima, To Ethnos, I Kathimerini
Greece's MPs have passed the new austerity plan the country needs before a new tranche of aid is transferred. But this vote, following lengthy negotiations in a parliament besieged by protesters, will not save a country that is sinking into political crisis, writes the Greek press.
It was the “last chance,” says To Vima. On 7 November the Greek Parliament approved the 18 billions in savings contained in the third memorandum signed by the coalition government of Antonis Samaras and the Troika of the EU, ECB and the IMF. Of the 299 deputies present, 153 deputies voted for the savings, and 128 against. Athens should now receive 31.5 billion euros from the EU and IMF and so avoid defaulting at the end of the month. “A Pyrrhic victory”, writes the weekly on its website –
It is obvious that the government has been wounded by this vote. The Socialist PASOK has lost six members, and New Democracy one. Both parties do have the assurance that the third party supporting the coalition, the Democratic Left under Foris Kouvelis, will continue to back the government's decisions. [...] Armed with the MPs' vote, the government can now go to the EU for help and ask that the promised tranche be released as soon as possible. This “final vote” and this “last chance” it gives should not be squandered – for the simple reason that, considering the great sacrifices the Greek people have made, it would amount to a crime.
“A thriller vote” for “A day of shame”, sums up To Ethnos in a pair of headlines. The vote was held late in the evening after long negotiations and with a crowd of more than 70,000 milling outside Parliament to protest against the new austerity measures. In his column, editorialist George Delastik takes offence at the spectacle put on by Greek democracy –
A few hours before the vote, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras had proposed adding to the vote a slash to the wages of Parliamentary employees. Clearly, the latter protested, mobilised, and came together in the emergency to call a strike. They mobilised the police [normally mobilised against protesters] who blocked the entrance to the office of the Prime Minister. Under pressure, the Minister of Finance was forced to withdraw his project. But it shows what a circus Parliament has become.
Greece cannot be saved by a single act like the vote on a law. Saving Greece can only be a lengthy process that will demand that the people play an active role in it. [...] Greek politicians must stop relying on a shift in the balance of power in Europe and should stop blaming ‘conservative forces’ of being socially insensitive. They must stop hoping for a show-down between Washington and Germany under Merkel. [...] Greece is a vestige of the Ottoman Empire's collapse about a century ago. Once again, an effort is being made to Westernise. This will require more than introducing or imposing a new political economy.