Greece To Hold Snap General Elections On May 6
Greece on Wednesday announced that it would hold snap elections on May 6 to replace the cross-party government led by Lucas Papademos, who has managed to impose the austerity measures that helped the country avoid default and receive a second bailout from the troika made of European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
On Wednesday, Lucas Papademos, who took office in November, asked the president Karolos Papoulias to dissolve the parliament and call snap elections. As he ended his mission, Papademos told the government that the major targets have been achieved, though the 40-billion euros recapitalization of the banks is said to still be in progress.
He said that the campaign that would start now was not like all the others as some decisions cannot wait until after the elections, and the ministers would have to keep on working whether they participate in the elections or not.
The campaign seems to have already started but the political parties seem to have problems enlisting the support of the citizens, angered over the austerity measures that they had to endure, and facing the prospect of more years of austerity required by the international lenders of Greece.
Opinion polls say that centre-right New Democracy party and the PanHellenic Socialist Movement would get together some 36 percent of the votes, compared to the 43 percent PASOK had a few years ago, before the crisis hit the country. 20 percent of the voters are said to be undecided. Ten percent are expected to abstain or cast blank votes in a protest against the incapacity of the political landscape to extricate Greece from the situation it is in.
Two-thirds of the voters want another coalition to govern after the elections, and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, former finance minister, is having a higher approval rate than Antonis Samaras, the leader of the centre-right ND.
Samaras said that if the party he leads does not obtain the majority to rule, he would force a new vote, a threat that could derail the implementation of the measures that are required by the European Union.
The parliamentary parties were compelled, as a precondition of the second bailout, to agree to continue to implement the austerity policies no matter who wins the new elections.
The new government will be facing the prospect of implementing further spending cuts, that will equal 5.5 percent of the national output.
The parliament has approved this week a 30 million euros funding for the parties to campaign in spite of criticism that some parties should not receive any governmental money as they have loans at the Greek banks.
The situation in Greece was reflected last week by the desperate gesture of a pensioner who shot his brains out in the Syntagma Square, near the Parliament of Greece. The man who was a pharmacist is said to have left a note behind in which he was saying he did not want his family to have to pay for his debts.
The gesture was received with much emotion in Greece and caused the people in Athens to protest the next day, and to clash with the riot police in a well known Greek uprising.
The suicide rate is said to have increased by 40 percent over the last year in Greece, as the economic situation has deteriorated and many were affected by the cuts demanded by the European Union in order for Greece to avoid default, a situation that would have taken the entire eurozone with it.
As a result of the situation in Greece, where the government was accused of having provided the European leaders with false information about the real situation of the country, the European Union, mainly France and Germany, proposed a financial pact by which the European Commission would watch over each country in the union to make sure they do not exceed the targeted deficit, which is expected to be comprised in the constitution of the country.
Seen by many as a transfer of economic sovereignty and a beginning of a federal government, the move was not accepted by all the countries at once, as Britain said that it would not accept more sovereignty transfer, and Hungary and the Czech Republic said they needed to consult with the people before making the decision.
As the situation evolves quickly, some say the pact is already obsolete and other measures are to be found to make sure that in the end Greece will hold out. One of the measures that was put forward at some time was that Greece leave the eurozone, a move that would allow Europe recover, but would widen the economic gap between developed and emerging countries in the European Union, whose leaders chose to save Greece and keep it inside the eurozone.11