Daily Archives: 07/11/2011

Classifieds: Prime Minister wanted for small South European country

When I started writing this blog I was thinking that one post per 1-2 days would be enough. The developments of last week have been so many that I feel like posting something every half an hour. Unfortunately everything is changing so fast that I avoid writing things that might be outdated within minutes.

A Prime Minister decides a referendum about question X. He then changes his mind and prefers question Z. Then he changes his mind and cancels the referendum. Decisions that usually need weeks or months to be taken or change. Here in Greece, our politicians need minutes to do that. Who said that Greeks are slow and lazy at their job?

I was relieved that Papandreou and Samaras (I shall call them “the kids” for the rest of this post) have shelved their egos and started talking about the new government. Unsurprisingly they haven’t yet agreed on the new Prime Minister (or, rather, the agreed candidates they chose did not want to take the job post). The irony with these kids is that they now look like adults who have nothing in common. Some decades ago, they were studying in the USA enjoying a comfortable life.

Papandreou and Samaras studied together at Amherst College (USA)

The were playing in the same music band, they were going out together. They could even have had the same girlfriends, said jokingly Mimis Androulakis, a PASOK veteran ideologist. One day Samaras and Papandreou were at their favourite place, a pizza restaurant owned by some Chris Bell. Samaras told Papandreou “One day we’ll face each other in the Parliament”. “I will not get involved with politics” replied Papandreou. And here they are quarelling like kids again. The only difference is that now the whole world cares.

Samaras and New Democracy have rejected the idea to offer their members for Ministry posts. So we have the paradox that New Democracy is the only opposition party in the world that wants to participate and influence a new government, without ever being accused of having participated in it.

Another funny thing is that the greek public has been a bit confused on the name of the new goverment. Here are some of the names:

  • national unity government
  • government of national salvation
  • emergency government
  • interim government
  • transitional government
  • government of cooperation
  • co-goverment
  • special task government
  • fixed-term government

But that’s a detail if you compare it with the crucial point: who’s gonna be the Prime Minister? The most probable candidate for the most of the day (yes, it actually changed during less than a single day) was Loukas Papadimos, former vice-president of ECB. It was reported that he posed some demands that couldn’t be satisfied. Another candidate was former Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros. The third candidate was Panagiotis Roumeliotis.

Now, I have no reason to prefer one of the three, but I would like to write this. Panagiotis Roumeliotis was a Minister at the end of 1980s during Andreas Papandreou’s (George’s father) administration. During that scandal heavy era, Andreas Papandreou, Panagiotis Roumeliotis and three more MPs were accused of embezzlement. Roumeliotis went off to become a European MP before the court and managed to avoid being tried thanks to his European MP immunity. He later was Greece’s representative to the IMF.

Update: As soon as I posted this I read that a deal has been reached and it will be announced tomorrow. Despite that, I’ll keep the fact expressed in the words of popular Greek blogger Pitsirikos: In the country where everyone says “Make me a Prime Minister even for just a day and I will manage to change everything”, no one wants to become a Prime Minister.

Paul Mason’s tweets for today’s situation

Paul Mason (BBC, Newsnight) just tweeted several tweets on where we stand today concerning the Greek (and EU) crisis. I decided to copy them over here as they do tell a truth and I respect his insight in these matters. By the way, he has written some of the most accurate articles about the situation in Greece last June, before the so-called Second Memorandum.

A quick Twittersplurge on the Euro situation: 1) With G-Pap gone Greece is not “sorted”. 1a) Both Pasok and ND have deep roots in GR society

1b)…Hence Pasok tried to avoid inflicting pain on state, ND must avoid infliciting pain on urban poor, super-rich, middle classes…

1c) Not clear what, if anything, Samaras has signed up to from 26 Oct deal, since he does not believe further austerity can work.

2) An unelected Greek technocratic govt cannot do what an elected Pasok govt failed to do. Anybody busy in EU/IMF diplo understand this?

3) I go back to “anomic breakdown” – only Pasok machine stood in way of this, and as we saw KKE security squads. Also ND hope of election…

4) So now Italy: here there is a clear #Berluscomparsi dividend. He has added instability to sit, so technocratic govt might work. Howevr…

4a) “The restaurants are full” was most telling comment. Whole S Europe living dolce vita on unsustainable debt. Above all upper middleclass

5) There are 3 potential ways to save situation: EFSF, IMF, ECB. Of which… EFSF is most doable.

6) Of EFSF/ECB/IMF routes, each has a democratic impediment. USA/UK won’t do enough IMF, Germany won’t do ECB, Germany stymied EFSF v1.0

7) The Anglo-Saxon insistence on ECB route is both logical and impossible: Germany easier to persuade to redesign EFSF + go fiscal union

8) So logically, since we are in mode of overtrhowing governments who get in way of Eurocrisis resolution… the one to overthrow wd be?

9) Work it out: SPD and Greens stand for fiscal union. That’s why I asked Sarko where does it stop.

10) Meanwhile EU better hope Greeks not listening to G-Pap when he said an election would cause a bank run. The day is young.

Go Greek for a Week

The Greek crisis has finally become a reality… show.

I’m pasting below the description of a new tv show which will be hosted by UK tv network Channel 4.

Three British families try out the tax, pensions and work practices that caused Greece’s economic crisis and brought on the austerity measures aimed at cutting the deficit and qualifying for EU bailouts.

A 54-year-old British hairdresser discovers the generosity of the Greek pensions system, which still allows hairdressers, pastry chefs, radio continuity announcers and people in almost 600 other jobs to retire aged 53 at 90% of their final salary because their jobs are defined as hazardous.

A bus driver reaps the rewards of the Greek approach to state-run services, where bus drivers are paid double the national average salary and receive extra bonuses for arriving at work early and for checking bus tickets.

And a British surgeon is delighted to discover how paying income tax the Greek way will transform his disposable income.

The personal experiences of the three main characters are supported by expert interviews that establish the patterns of tax evasion, corruption and mismanagement that have helped to sink the Greek economy.

The show’s webpage is here. I’m so curious to watch the first episode (tonight at 8pm UK time) even if I am personally in Season 2 of the Greek crisis series.