Greece’s Elections in May Will Not Solve the Country’s Many Crises Nor Heal Disunity

Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast (Newsweek group), 14.04.2012

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Like most Greek tragedies, the current political and economic crisis playing out in Greece today is not likely to have a happy ending.

On Wednesday, the country’s technocratic leader, Lucas Papademos, dissolved Parliament and called snap elections, which will be held May 6. Papademos was appointed as caretaker of Greece in November when his predecessor, George Papandreou, resigned under pressure. In his five months in office, Papademos has passed unpopular austerity measures to qualify for European Union bailouts that have been met with an exodus of Greeks from the country, violent protests, and even a public suicide when retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, 77, shot himself in the head in Athen’s Sytagma Square last week. According to the suicide note in his pocket, he was desperate because of his debts and Papademos-sponsored pension cuts. […]

"All polls indicate a political earthquake," Janis Emmanouilidis, a senior policy analyst at the European Policy Center in Brussels told The Daily Beast. "Based on these polls, the Greek voters are heading toward a grand coalition, which makes sense from a politically logical point of view."

For all the uncertainty ahead, one thing is clear—there is not one leader with enough backing to take over the country’s monstrous economic mess. Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy Party and Evangelos Venizelos of the PASOK are the best-known candidates. But neither leader is willing to step aside to share power in a broad coalition government, leading to speculation that an elected government will still need to appoint a neutral technocratic-style leader like Papademos to muddle through the economic crisis. "There are some who think keeping Papademos or a third person in power is the only answer," says Emmanouilidis. "There are others who wish for a different kind of technocrat - someone weaker - to play to the parties. But a coalition dominated by tactics like that ultimately isn’t good for the Greek people." […]

Whoever wins, Emmanouilidis says he sees no sign that Greek voters want a government that will lead them out of the European Union despite the anger on the streets. Greece has been granted two massive bailouts from the European Union to try to solve their debt crisis, and many Greeks lament that they are being held hostage to countries like Germany, which has pressured Greece to pass harsh cuts to meet the strict rules attached to the EU’s bailout loans. […]

Still, Emmanouilidis says, a large segment of the Greek population wants to stay within the EU and is ready to do what it takes, even if it means more austerity. "Being ‘ready to do what it takes’ is a big task," he says. "But early polls show support for staying with a government that makes the EU requirements a priority." [...]

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