The cuts package is coming down to the wire, with coalition leaders meeting today to add the finishing touches. One of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ own legislators has been kicked out of the party for threatening a no vote, and the finance minister is using a desperate sales pitch: Pass it or you’ll starve. The last remaining stumbling block, labor rights, appears to have been resolved.
Meanwhile, there are hints from the North that another haircut may be in the works, created through a bit of clever semantic engineering, and even the German finance minister is waffling his way to acceptance of the inevitable.
Another rightist party is joining Golden Dawn in calling for resignations in hopes to triggering a new election, and they asked the leftist Syriza to join them, a move that was quickly rejected. Syriza’s also hitting out at a coalition call to force the sale of homes previously exempted.
An Orthodox cleric who has been calling for tolerance and speaking out against Golden Dawn is drawing death threats, austerity measures are leading to environmental devastation, and a blog posts the europol agenda.
Samaras calls for Tuesday cuts session
Fighting to hold his increasingly shaky coalition together, New Democracy head and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is meeting Tuesday with his coalition partners in what he hopes will result in a final decision on the Troika-demanded cuts package.
From Andy Dabilis of Greek Reporter:
With his coalition government splintering, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet his coalition partners on Oct. 23 for talks on trying to finalize a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike package that has been stalled for months, delaying the release of critical funds from international lenders.
Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, will meet PASOK Socialist Evangelos Venizelos, who is facing defections and a challenge to his new leadership over his support for austerity measures, and Democratic Left head Fotis Kouvelis, who is also facing opposition for his backing of more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions. All three leaders had vowed ahead of the critical June 17 elections to resist austerity measures but have reneged on their promises.
Samaras said he must get agreement from his partners and the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is putting up $325 billion two bailouts.
The package then will go to the Parliament the government controls, although the Prime Minister already has ejected one party member for failing to back him and the other coalition partners are facing growing opposition as well. Nikos Stavrogiannis, was dismissed from the New Democracy parliamentary group after saying he would vote against the measures because they were “unfair, harsh and ineffective.” Stavrogiannis hit back saying he could no longer follow ND’s “Ovidian transformations.”
Read the rest.
But Samaras expels one of his own
The prime minister has expelled one of his own members of parliament after the legislator announced he couldn’t vote for the austerity measures Samaras is so desperate to enact.
Nikos Stavrogiannis, a New Democracy legislator representing Fthiotida, got the boot after raising the threat to cast his vote against measures he deemed “unfair, harsh and ineffective.”
While the expulsion removes him from the ranks of the prime minister’s party, he remains in the legislature as an independent.
From the Economic Times:
“My conscience does not allow me to vote for measures that devastate the weakest members of society,” Stavrogiannis told the Real News newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
The expulsion of Stavrogiannis, who remains in parliament as an independent, underscores Samaras’s hard line on deputies publicly undermining his pledge to push through the cuts to restore Greece’s credibility among lenders.
“Obviously we do not see eye to eye with Mr Stavrogiannis,” the government’s spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou, told Greek television on Monday, confirming the expulsion.
“The vast majority of us have realised that there is an imperative national duty that we must serve, that we must put the national interest above everything else.”
Read the rest.
Using starvation as a sales pitch
The coalition’s getting desperate to convince wavering lawmakers of the necessity to enact the Troika-demanded cuts.
The latest rhetorical gambit: Pass them or people will starve.
From Keep Talking Greece:
He is getting more and more dramatic every time he speaks in the Greek Parliament. Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras does not miss a chance to praise the benefits of the upcoming austerity measures package – or tsunami.” The cost for the country would be infinite, if we do not take the tranche of 31.5 billion euro,” he said on Monday adding “that if we do not take the tranche, people will starve…”
Yiannis Stournaras refrained to determine who are exactly the people who will starve…
Thank God, the majority of Samaras’ coalition government MPs will vote in favor of the 13.5 billion euro austerity measures for the shake of the 31.5 billion euro loan tranche to be used to banks recapitalization and payment of outstanding state debts. If the austerity package will give another hard kick to low- and middle incomers, that’s a story belonging to a different book of Greece economic depression history….
Labor issues formed the last stumbling block
And the coalition is about to throw in the towel, though the Troika has made some concessions.
“Restructuring” always means destroying the power of organized labor, and that’s what the coalition has agreed to do.
From Athens News:
The government is nearing agreement with the troika of international lenders on the thorny issue of changes to the labour regime, according to statements made by Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Sunday afternoon after a meeting of the government’s economic staff with prime minister Antonis Samaras.
Vroutsis appeared optimistic on the final outcome of the deliberations, although he avoided reference to details or to the content of the ministry’s electronic correspondence with the EC-ECB-IMF troika of lenders.
According to labour ministry sources, the Greek side appears to have ‘saved’ the three-year salary maturities until the completion of the mid-term programme. The troika maintains that the three-year maturities were abolished with the signing of the second memorandum, which calls for the replacement of the national collective labour agreement with a minimum salary.
The ministry bases its position on the Cabinet Act of February 22 which provides for a reduction of the minimum wage by 22 percent and by 25 percent for young people under 25 years of age “until completion of the fiscal adjustment programme”.
The same Act also stipulates that salary maturity benefits, and benefits for children, university studies and hazardous work will be maintained after the expiry of the collective labour agreements, while all other benefits will be abolished.
Read the rest.
So collective bargaining has been abolished, and the minimum wage slashed, with the greatest cuts for the nation’s young, half of whom simply can’t find work.
Sleight of hand accounting in the works?
Austerity won’t work if an economy has been utterly destroyed. After all, the purpose is to keep cash flowing for the private sector investors.
And sometimes the devastation already inflicted by previous rounds of “restructuring” is so great that investors have to take some losses — “haircuts” in investorese.
Now it looks like another haircut is in the works, though it’s carefully concealed behind a clever bit of semantic persiflage.
Euro-zone countries are considering a proposal that would see Greece cut its debt by buying back bonds held by private creditors at a discount, says Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, the exercise, one of a number of options being studied, could persuade the International Monetary Fund to sign off on a loan payment desperately needed by the debt-laden country and Continue reading