The specter of early elections

Confusion has returned to Greek politics. PASOK, the junior partner in the governing coalition, has started distancing itself quite markedly from New Democracy in an effort to project a distinct political personality. It is obvious that the leadership of the socialist party founded by Andreas Papandreou believes that the head of ND, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, may call early general elections.

For his part, Samaras – who is prone to springing surprises – and his government are exercising the kind of determination that invariably creates tensions and whether snap polls are called or not, the party will lose much of its force and luster, giving way to dim reality.

The operation to clamp down on Golden Dawn – a perfectly justified move that is Samaras’s first true show of force following the heinous murder of a young musician in Keratsini – did not lead to ND voters that had strayed returning to the flock. There are already signs to show that the crackdown on the far-right party, which is being characterized as a criminal organization, is being widely perceived as a smoke screen for the imposition of new austerity measures.

Sensing its alienation from its traditional conservative base, the leadership of New Democracy is showing determination in its pursuit to crush the “other extreme” – obviously a reference to SYRIZA and despite the vehement protests of several prominent conservatives.

The third and most recent show of force concerns the government’s head-on collision with the troika. Fervent champions of the memorandums for the past couple of years, the conservatives have become the troika’s most scathing critics.

It is a fact that society has been completely worn down and that unemployment has reached unacceptable levels, but the government, for face-saving reasons, has always given the impression that all would go well and that the end of the memorandum and troika inspectors was near.

At every level, the government said that Greece would soon have a primary surplus and unilaterally proceeded with a proposal to close the anticipated fiscal gap, which ran into a wall of strong resistance at the European Central Bank. The PR campaign heralding success has failed completely and is now dragging both coalition partners into the abyss.

It is not at all certain that Samaras is entertaining the idea of early elections, but the fact is that this would not really unsettle our European partners anyway. With the crisis spreading from the south of the bloc to other countries in the European Union, there is no way our creditors will back down under the threat of snap polls. So, we all need to calm down and the government needs to brace itself for disappointing the permanent “sponsors” of Greece’s political life, even though society is collapsing.