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.
Two new opinion polls were made public late on Monday night. Both put New Democracy narrowly ahead of SYRIZA and had Golden Dawn as Greece’s third biggest party, reaffirming the figures that have been seen in the past few days from other surveys.
Support for Golden Dawn has fallen to pre-election levels according a new poll, which also suggests that about a fifth of Greeks do not have a dim view of the neofascist party despite the recent arrest of its leadership.
On a trip to the USA this week, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said his government was in the process of “completely eradicating” Golden Dawn. Events in Athens over the past few days suggest that this will not happen quickly, if it happens at all.
Addressing the nation in the wake of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas's murder by a Golden Dawn member in September, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras issued a message to citizens and political opponents: “This is not the time for internal disputes or tension,” he said. However, there are growing doubts about whether his own party, New Democracy, is heeding this advice.
Greece’s coalitions has decided against calling snap elections in the wake of Golden Dawn arrests over the weekend but it remains to be see whether it will be possible to avoid going to the polls altogether.
The arrest of Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos, a handful of his MPs and several party members on Saturday was a surprise on many levels and has left a number of key political issues open.