After a busy but productive few weeks during which Greece secured billions of euros in pending rescue loans, returned to international bond markets for the first time in four years and received a fresh expression of political support from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his cabinet have a few days to take stock over the Easter holidays before the focus shifts back to the issue of the country’s unsustainable debt and preparations for elections next month.
According to sources, Samaras intends to capitalize on the achievements of his government over the past few weeks as political campaigning intensifies ahead of European and local authority elections in May, casting his government as the guarantor of stability and as a reliable negotiator with the country’s foreign creditors.
The government has also been buoyed by the fact that main leftist opposition SYRIZA has been plunged into fresh upheaval following a proposal by the head of the party’s so-called Left Faction to include in SYRIZA’s manifesto a plan for Greece exiting the euro in the event that talks between a leftist government and the troika break down. SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras played down the fallout of the overture by Panayiotis Lafazanis, which was rejected by the party’s central committee, but the development gave fuel to critics who point to rifts in the party.
Having trailed SYRIZA in most opinion polls, the development is a welcome one for conservative New Democracy, which leads the two-party coalition.
ND is expected to underline the dissent in SYRIZA – which the leftists insist is democratic dialogue – in the countdown to the elections.
The government is hoping to further bolster its campaign with some positive statements regarding the possible launch of talks with its international creditors about the country’s debt. The European Commission’s statistics service, Eurostat, is expected to confirm the government’s forecast of a primary surplus on April 23. Eurozone leaders have said this could pave the way for a discussion about a possible lightening of Greece’s debt.