Amid an increasingly gloomy atmosphere at home, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras heads for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday in the hope that he will bring something back from Berlin that could help his government remain in power.
Since the damaging result of the European Parliament elections in May, a sense of dread appears to have gripped the coalition, leading to tension and differences of opinion. This is most evident from the unrest within PASOK.
In a much-anticipated speech, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras unveiled the main pillars of his party’s economic policy platform on Saturday, focusing on debt relief from the eurozone, the use of European Union funds to boost employment, a reduction in taxes and an increase of wages and pensions.
Although the government passed its latest amendments to the troubled single property tax (ENFIA) on Thursday, the atmosphere surrounding the ballot underlined that all is not well within the coalition.
Positive news from Brussels has been somewhat of a rarity for Greece over the last few years but the government appears totally satisfied with the make-up of the new European Commission after it was confirmed on Wednesday that outgoing Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos would take over the newly created portfolio of immigration and home affairs.
The decline of former coalition partner Democratic Left (DIMAR) continued on Tuesday when MP Spyros Lykoudis, one of the party’s leading figures, announced he is quitting to become an independent lawmaker.
Greece is no different from other countries in that when prime ministers announce tax cuts it is usually to win over voters before elections. However, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s pledge on Saturday to reduce taxes was a little different: It was aimed at preventing elections.
PASOK’s rapid decline from a party that garnered almost 45 percent of the vote in late 2009 appears not to be over yet, with a deep internal rift threatening to split the Socialists – now polling at less than 10 percent – in two.
The brief summer lull in Greek politics is due to end this week with the meeting of coalition ministers and troika representatives in Paris due to begin on Tuesday. Although the talks will focus on technical issues, these carry high political significance in Greece.
The government has built up expectations regarding Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's economic policy speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday, September 6 but the political tone for the weeks to come may be set by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras's address a week later.