Watching the vote of confidence in the government is a good opportunity to make some observations. First of all, the prime minister called for the confidence vote not so much to see if Parliament has trust in the government as to gain time and be in a position to get an idea of the intentions of the numerous independent deputies in the House when it comes to voting for a new president.
There are 23 independent MPs in the 300-seat House who have either been ousted from parties or left by their own accord. By their number alone they are one of the greatest peculiarities of the present Parliament as never before in Greece’s 40-year post-dictatorship history have there been so many deputies who do not belong to any one party. If anything, they are a sign that the old political system is crumbling and a real shake-up is on the horizon.
The independents, together with the deputies of parties unlikely to gather enough votes in the next general election to get back into Parliament, as well as the MPs of New Democracy and PASOK, who will see their number of seats drop in comparison to 2012, are all seriously worried about their political futures. They have good reason too: They have ratified tough laws that have angered their electorate, they are in parties that are in decline or they are bobbing along alone, without an anchor, as they know that their re-election will be difficult if not impossible. Most do not want early elections. Obviously no MP wants to face the risk of being booted out faster.
So it was from these reluctant and worried politicians that a daring political proposal has arisen: the formation of a special-purpose government composed of the two coalition parties as well as the main opposition, even with an alternating prime minister whose single most important task would be to negotiate a debt reduction. What they are basically suggesting is a government similar to that led by interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos from November 2011 to May 2012. The head of the vanished LAOS party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, clearly a special-purpose leader himself, likes to boast that he was a catalyst in the formation of the government that oversaw the brutal writedown of privately held debt and the issuing of new debt under British law in the build up to the double election in the late spring of 2012.
The circumstances today are entirely different, however. The political landscape has undergone radical and profound changes since then, as has society. Such historical shifts cannot be addressed with hallway machinations.