Through insecurity comes optimism

By Angelos Stangos

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras recently expressed his optimism regarding the quota of 180 Parliamentary deputies required for the election of Greece’s next president, in order for the country to avoid early elections. Time will tell whether his optimism will be vindicated, considering that a period of at least six months between now and January or February next year, when current President Karolos Papoulias completes his mandate, is particularly long, especially given the current political climate.

There is no doubt that the ongoing discussion surrounding this particular issue once again reveals a lack of respect for institutions. Both the government and the opposition appear to be completely indifferent to the actual candidate and instead are focusing exclusively on the number of MPs who will lend their support to either side, determining whether early elections will take place or be avoided altogether. It’s as though who the new head of state will be carries no importance whatsoever. In other words, it could be anyone. Of course we have become accustomed to such behavior, along with anything else that skews the principles of democracy, its institutions, the law, society and education, among others, in order to make way for the so-called “Greek reality.”

Given that we cannot escape this “Greek reality,” it is evident that the premier’s hopes were raised by the publication of an interview with Fotis Kouvelis, in which the Democratic Left chief left the matter of where the party’s 11 deputies stand on the presidential election completely open. Samaras’s optimism was also boosted by the fact that Independent Greeks head Panos Kammenos – whose anti-bailout party currently has 13 deputies in the House – appears to be keeping his distance from opposition SYRIZA. There are also 25, for the time being at least, independent deputies sitting in Parliament and no one knows how they will vote. What is certain is that out of this total of 49 MPs very few have any real chance of getting re-elected and this will no doubt weigh in their final decision.

The coalition government currently stands at 152 deputies, with 125 coming from conservative New Democracy and 27 from socialist PASOK. Supposing that this front remains united through the next six or seven months, the coalition will have to earn the support of another 28 MPs in order to attain the magic quota of 180. Besides, not even those MPs comprising the current Parliamentary majority – especially PASOK deputies – feel any kind of certainty that they will find themselves in Parliament once more following a new round of elections.

In other words, the prime minister’s optimism, although rather premature, is based on the insecurity felt by parties and deputies in view of elections.