Greece’s coalition completed one of its key tasks for December by obtaining Parliament’s approval for the 2014 budget early on Sunday but was also given an acute reminder of the challenges that still remain as the European Commission confirmed there was no chance of the troika’s Greek program review concluding this month.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras received timely words of encouragement from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday but his government still finds itself in a tricky position ahead of the troika's return to Athens later this month, when a final decision will have to be taken on home foreclosures.
The New Democracy-PASOK coalition enters this December one of its most crucial months since the June 2012 elections, with Greek politics in flux and public opinion finely balanced, according to the latest opinion polls.
Tax is one of the most sensitive issues in Greece at the moment as result of four years of repeated hikes so it was no surprise that Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras’s insistence this week that Greeks are not overtaxed caused a political ruction.
Greek Parliament passed an amendment on Wednesday that should lead to the cost of dozens of medicines being lowered but the legislation has proved far more controversial than its content would suggest.
After the relative relief provided by his visit to Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is back in the thick of things in Greece, where his government has to meet a series of challenges before the beginning of 2014 when the country takes over the European Union’s six-month rotating presidency.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has sparked a new war of words with PASOK after saying that Socialist MPs who quit their party would be welcomed by the leftists but the row has overshadowed his attempt to set out – albeit sketchily – what he might do in his first 100 days as prime minister, should he win the next elections.
When Democratic Left quit the coalition government in June, the possibility of the small centre-left party bridging its differences with New Democracy and PASOK seemed impossible. Suddenly, though, some kind of reconciliation does not appear to be out of the question.
Could what once seemed impossible be about to happen? Are we set to see SYRIZA and the Independent Greeks, two parties on opposite sides of the political spectrum, agree an official cooperation?
Greece’s two-party coalition survived a no-confidence vote early Monday, leaving opposition party SYRIZA, which submitted the censure motion, looking unprepared and testy. The government, meanwhile, suffered the embarrassment of one of its MPs voting for the motion.