Sixteen months after one-time rivals Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos put aside their differences to form a coalition government, the two have agreed on a policy framework for their administration. However, as the accord comes more than a year after last summer’s fractious elections, questions will be asked about its relevance at this stage of developments in Greece.
It does not happen often but early on Wednesday morning, the overwhelming majority of Greek MPs voted in favour of an amendment submitted to Parliament. The legislation will see state funding to Golden Dawn halted in the wake of charges being levelled against its leader and several MPs.
The European Union Task Force for Greece noted on Tuesday “striking improvements” in the country’s absorption of structural and cohesion funding and an “accelerated pace of change” in public administration reforms. The report is the latest stage in the attempt by the European Commission to provide Greece with tangible help that goes some way to mending broken ties.
Ex-Defence Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was jailed for money laundering last week but his legacy continues to cause turmoil in Greek politics. The fallout from the submarine deal he signed while at the ministry is at the heart of SYRIZA’s latest political assault on the government and is threatening to cause a rift between the two parties within the coalition.
The possibility of having to implement around 2 billion euros in new austerity measures next year and not discovering what form further debt relief might take until the middle of 2014 has suddenly put the Greek government on tenterhooks.
Golden Dawn maintains a strong following in Athens, a new poll has shown, but it is drawing support from sources that many Greeks and commentators might find surprising.
A potentially significant moment in Greece’s centre left, and perhaps Greek politics in general, is due to take place this week. The inaugural proclamation of a new centre left movement is due to be presented on Wednesday, with its authors hoping to replicate Italy’s Olive Tree alliance, founded under the leadership of Romano Prodi in 1995.
Tension has seeped through Greek politics in the wake of the Golden Dawn arrests but Prime Minister Antonis Samaras appears to have decided to play on this polarisation. On Friday, he launched a new attack on unidentified opposition parties, which he accused of not providing a blanket condemnation of violence.
One of the more contentious fiscal measures of the last three years was the decision to raise the consumption tax on heating oil last year to equal the levy on vehicle fuel. There is now a struggle within the Samaras administration over whether to roll back the tax.
Former Defence Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was jailed for 20 years on Monday after being found guilty of money laundering. Although the ex-PASOK veteran will serve only a fraction of this sentence, his conviction is notable moment in Greek politics as it is the first time a frontline political figure has been found guilty of corruption since the early 1990s.