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.
Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis is emerging as the clear frontrunner in the coalition’s thinking on who it should nominate to be the next president of Greece, when incumbent Karolos Papoulias’s term ends in February.
New Democracy’s attempt to form a broad right-wing alliance designed to prevent SYRIZA winning the next elections has had a mixed response so far but the most important reaction could yet be the one from within the party itself.
A few days after the prospect of an alliance between New Democracy and ultranationalist LAOS was floated, the possibility of even broader cooperation among right wing parties in Greece has been nipped in the bud.
Whether Greece heads to snap elections or not in the next few months, the pre-election jostling for positions and formation of alliances is well underway.
There were a few raised eyebrows when SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras spent two days at the semi-autonomous monastic community on Mount Athos in northern Greece last week but his visit should be seen within the context of the leftist party trying to broaden its appeal and mend its damaged relationship with the Orthodox church.
While reports that the troika may be disbanded in favour of a more European Union Task Force-style body that will monitor Greek reforms in the years to come is likely to be received well by the coalition, such a development would not be without its own challenges.