November 8, 2012 by pavlospapathanasiou
Despite having an initial parliamentary majority of 179 out of 300 MPs in June 2012, the battening Samaras Cabinet managed to pass the new bill with the Troika-imposed wages-pensions cuts and the labor rights reform with only 153 MPs. To achieve this humiliating result, which is by far the lowest majority that a Greek government had since the Troika intervention in 2010, Prime Minister Samaras and his Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras used the same old and boring tactics; he warned his MPs to vote for the bill because otherwise the country would default , or the country would become “Northern Korea” (1)
Both the Supreme Court and the Parliament’s commission stated that the new bill provisions were against the constitution (2). Even the European Commission itself stated that the provisions are not in accordance with the European Legislation (3) while the vast majority of the Greece people demonstrated in Athens outside the Parliament and in other cities. Yesterday morning, only a few hours before the crucial vote, the MPs of the main Opposition party SYRIZA-EKM and the other basic anti-austerity and anti-memorandum-party Independent Greeks called the Parliament’s President to recall the new bill since it is against the constitution. The President, who is a member of Samaras’ Nea Dimokratia party was hence forced to call for a vote on the opposition’s proposal. However due to the fact that most of the MPs of the tri-partite government (Nea Dimokratia-PASOK- Democratic Left) were absent at that moment, he asked for more time in order to call them back to vote against the proposal (4) Later in the afternoon the Finance Minister without any warning added to the bill a new provision, which concerned further cuts to the Parliament employees wages. At once the parliament employees called for a strike and the whole voting procedure was followed with no single employee available to keep the session’s records (5)!
Finally the turbulent procedure ended with a humiliating result for the government; only 153 MPs voted for the new bill, while there was one of them, PASOK MP Theodora Tzakri, who stated that she was forced to vote “under the gun’s threat” and called PM Samaras and Minister Stournaras “Troika servants” (6) which means that the actual votes for the bill were 152. Six other PASOK MPs and another counterpart of them from Nea Dimokratia did not vote for the bill and this drove the leaders of the two parties Venizelos and Samaras to expell them at once from their parliamentary groups.
On the other hand the Opposition gave a significant battle and almost won it; Samaras himself was in such an uncomfortable position that he left the Parliament’s main hall twice; once while the Main Opposition Leader, Alexis Tsipras was delivering his speech and a another one when it was the turn of Panos Kammenos from Independent Greeks. Alexis Tsipras actually vilified Samaras by accusing him for ignoring the Parliament the last 4 months while he argued that those would not be the last measures to be taken as the Prime Minister promised to the people. Independent Greeks leader, Panos Kammenos said that Samaras and Stournaras will not be able to guarantee the next Troika loan payment despite putting pressure on their MPs to vote for the bill. Indeed, today’s facts justified Mr. Kammenos predictions; according to German Finance Minister and IMF officials’ statements there is not going to be a solution for Greece in the following Eurogroup session of November 12th (7).
The minor Opposition parties attacked the government as well. The Communist Party called the people for “disobedience” and overturning of the neo-liberal policies, while the ultra nationalist Golden Dawn warned Samaras government that should be taken to the Supreme Court for treason.
Tremendous demonstrations spread all over the country, but the main one outside the Parliament was one of the largest ever; Despite the heavy rain and the numerous tear gas that the Greek Police used as always, the demonstrators refused to leave. At some point, all SYRIZA-EKM MPs left the Parliament building and joined the demonstrators holding a banner under the slogan “You are destroying the country-Leave Now” while they were singing a traditional resistance song from the Nazi-Occupation era (1941-1944) (8) Inside the Parliament the Independent Greeks MPs while voting , were shouting “NO” and were raising Greek flags.
Despite the illusory pretext of Samaras that he “saved the country” (actually citizens cannot recall how many times they have heard this phrase) the real winners of yesterday’s procedure ,that could only be compared to such of a Banana Republic, were the anti-austerity and anti-Memorandum citizens and the Opposition. Samaras himself received another slap with the result since he was expecting to receive 158 or more votes. His partner, Venizelos of PASOK did not only loose the 6 MPs who voted against, but also another one, who earlier today announced that he is turning independent, leaving the desperate leader with a parliamentary group of only 26 MPs. As predicted PASOK dies (9) and cannot be a reliable partner of the government anymore. Most of today’s press are attacking the government for voting the bill , while the public opinion is furious but in the same time confident that these new measures are not going to be implemented. Even the voters of Nea Dimokratia party feel distrust for Samaras himself. And on the top of all these, the economy is still shrinking; The German Finance Minister and IMF officials’ statements caused a collapse to Athens Stock Exchange, while international scholars are predicting a tough month for the markets and the global economy (10). Can anyone still believe that a Prime Minister like Greece’s Samaras is a “savior” or is convincing more as a “terminator” of the democratic procedures and of the economy?
(1) https://greekhermes.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/finance-minister-stournaras-greece-will-become-northern-korea/ Finance Minister warns that Greece will become Northern Korea
(2) http://www.diktionews.gr/koinonia/3457-2012-11-07-13-14-58 New bill provisions are against the Constitution according to the Parliament’s Commission and the Supreme Court (in Greek)
(3) http://news247.gr/eidiseis/oikonomia/vomva_komision_asymvivastes_me_thn_nomothesia_ths_ee_oi_protaseis_ths_troika_gia_ta_ergasiaka.1992747.html European Commission state that the new measures are against the European legislation
(4) http://www.zougla.gr/parapolitiki/article/dialima-me-to-kalimera-sti-vouli Embarassed Parliament’s President asks for more time in order to gather the government’s MPs back in the session (in Greek)
(5) http://www.philenews.com/el-gr/Eidiseis-Ellada/23/122095/fotia-sti-synedriasi-tis-voulis-apo-rythmisi-gia-tous-ypallilous-tis-voulis Parliament employees call for a strike before the crucial vote (in Greek)
(6) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JqXhYozwbn8 Theodora Tzakri, PASOK MP speech: “it is the last time that I vote for” (in Greek)
(7) http://www.sofokleousin.gr/archives/114518.html Greece is not getting the next loan payment so far (in Greek)
(8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CPp9Ze4cFqI SYRIZA-EKM parliamentary group joins the demonstrators outside the Parliament
(9) https://greekhermes.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/the-end-of-pasok/ The end of PASOK
(10) http://www.leadingtrader.com/public/free-webinar/ Leading Markets’ Veteran, Alessio Rastani on the global markets and economy