The Strategist

Greece: New Elections or a Referendum?

03/11/2015 - 17:23

The Eurogroup extended duration of Greece Financial aid program. However, the chance of salvation suddenly turned to the increase of internal government contradictions, argues Deutsche Welle.

Intra-party disputes in the ruling coalition government in Greece are not only around the country's membership in the euro zone, but also on relations of Athens and creditors. In late February, the EU extended Greece Financial aid program by extra four months - by the end of June 2015. Nevertheless, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, representing Syriza radical left party, continues to insist: the country only needs to extend the term of the loan agreement, rather than the entire assistance program, which provides for the austerity measures.

Split amplified

However, such statements of the government have drawn criticism from his own supporters and only reinforce the split of Greece political forces. For example, in a closed session of the Syriza parliamentary faction in late February all the lawmakers without exception opposed the extension of the agreement with the European partners.
Dissenting voices and sounding from the Syriza ruling coalition "junior" partner - right party "Independent Greeks» (Anel). "If the extension of the agreement will be voted on in Parliament, we are up against," - warned in a televised interview MP from the "Independent Greeks" Nikos Mavraganis.
"There is evidence of a contradiction: on the one hand, the government tells about the extension of the existing agreement, and on the other - tries to convince voters that the austerity program will not be extended," - said in an interview with Athens economist and journalist Makis Andronopulos. According to the expert, Syriza itself has become a hostage of its own rhetoric.

Lefts need a purge of party ranks

Despite of everything, Andronopuslos does not hide his sympathy for the Greek government. He has good reason to be more hopeful about than ever about the new Prime Minister. Alexis Tsipras is markedly different from its predecessors – he has nothing to do with power political clans in Greece and is not afraid to go against someone's interests.

According to the expert, for Tsipras it would be nice to throw off all the "radical leftist cargo" and make a kind of inner cleaning, as once did the former Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. In 1977 he had expelled from his party's Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) many leading politicians, and a few years later, in 1981, came to power. Such a scenario does not look easy for Tsirpas, because inner-strife can undermine the stability of the government. "But if Tsipras still dare to do it, very soon he will come to new elections," - said Andronopulos.

Meanwhile, the voices of the left wing of the ruling coalition in the last days are becoming louder. First, MEP from Syriza Manolis Glezos publicly accused the party leadership in violation of election promises. And on Friday, March 6, economist Costas Lapavitsas demanded Greek debt to be restructuring in June.
However, until that time, according to the economist, the Greek government still needs to realize much of what was stated in the election program. "A four-month period for which Greece Financial aid program was extended, it is necessary just to Syriza has launched its election program," - said in a television interview Lapavitsas.

New elections or a referendum?

Costas Lapavitsas, who teaches economics at the University of London, is well known in Athens. He has long advocated a return to the drachma, being a staunch opponent of the current Greece Minister of Finance Janis Varufakisa. The latter, on the contrary, is trying to keep Greece in the Eurozone.
However, they both agree on one thing: this summer Athens should negotiate with international lenders on the next aid package.

Lapavitsas does not give a clear answer on the question of what happens in the case of a split in the ruling coalition. According to him, if in June Greece will have to choose between a new package of austerity measures and exit from the eurozone, then ‘people must decide on it’. But Lapavitsas did not specify whether it would be a new election or referendum.