The formation of an interim administration led by former European Central Bank Vice President Lucas Papademos has put an end to the political turmoil of the past two weeks.
However, we should not place too many expectations on the newly unveiled government. Firstly, because it has a short-term mandate and, secondly, because its political power depends exclusively on the support of the parties that participate: socialist PASOK, conservative New Democracy and the right-wing LAOS.
LAOS so far appears to be the only keen member of the crisis coalition. New Democracy was coerced to participate under the threat of a Greek exit from the eurozone, which would have catastrophic consequences for the country. PASOK had no other option following the fall of its leader George Papandreou, as well as to avoid a humiliating defeat in a potential early election.
The formation of the coalition government alone signals the dawn of a new era. It shows that the austerity measures, sanctioned by Greece?s international lenders, are too heavy for any single-party government to shoulder. PASOK has already entered a phase of transformation. New Democracy, which has so far opposed the memorandum signed with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, could be facing the same fate by virtue of its membership in the transit administration — to the extent that it will have to introduce additional belt-tightening measures.
The post-election landscape will be different. For the first time after the fall of the 1967-74 military dictatorship, the two main parties will have limited power — particularly the Socialists, who have emerged from all this with the most serious damage.
Where will the exhausted and frustrated middle class turn to? Sure, left-wing parties will get most of the protest vote, but they offer little in the way of a comprehensive, persuasive alternative for the country?s ills.
The mosaic that will surface after the necessary interval of the Papademos administration is still unpredictable. It will most likely call for a new coalition government. New figures and new political parties will almost certainly emerge to express the will of voters in the nascent social and economic environment.