A shaky alliance flanked by extremes

The coalition government has had its share of bad luck between the health problems and resignations that beleaguered its first days. It is an unprecedented experiment and there were no cries of triumph when it was formed, which makes sense given the magnitude of the problems that this loose coalition of different ideologies has to deal with.

There are those who are relieved by the fact that a certain level of consensus has been reached by the three party leaders. At the same time though, a new rift is forming. New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left have emerged as parties of the ?system,? which is effectively collapsing and for whose rescue such desperate measures are being taken. On the other side there are the opposition parties, both on the left and the right, that are seen as being outside the system. In short, what we have is an opposition made up of extremes and a three-party coalition that is trying to balance between implementing neglected reforms and a society on the brink of explosion.

Greece faced a similar situation in 1958, but the difference was that the system worked. There was the Palace that was in constant dialogue with the main parties and the United States that could guarantee Greece?s safe passage into the Western system. The United Democratic Left party, which was in the opposition, was pushed to the sidelines.

Greece still has allies but it also faces acrimony from the European system to which it belongs and especially from Chancellor Angela Merkel?s Germany. A plan for getting Greece out of the crisis exists in two memorandums of understanding, irrespective of whether they are faulty or incomplete. The application of their terms, however, not only risks provoking a reaction from the people who have seen their incomes slashed, but also from a section of the ruling elite, which is trying to maintain its influence over political developments.

The political system functioned on the basis of two powerful parties — that are not really unalike — which for the past 30 years created an odd balance of power that benefited everyone, regardless of social group, up until Greece collapsed. When SYRIZA became the main opposition and two new parties emerged to the right of New Democracy, the post-Junta political establishment collapsed as well.

In the past two elections, the voters punished the elite — political and economic — that has ruled Greece for the past 30 years. Now, some members of that elite should step down before the country is split into extremes.

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