Jun 19 2012

Deep Faults and Lines in the Sand

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Other than the names and faces of the actors, not much is different in either Greece or Egypt after much analyzed and anticipated elections this weekend. In Greece, the center right is still faced with the dilemma of forming and holding together a coalition government to deal with the economic crisis that threatens to take down the Eurozone. While is Egypt, despite the historic election of an Islamic president, the military still maintains a tight control and all the power.

Greek elections: Antonis Samaras faces tough task to forge unity

The fault lines are so deep that even if a government is formed, many believe it will be a miracle if it survives for long

[..]The ambitious politician faces the Herculean labour of forging a government of “national salvation” at a time of unprecedented crisis. Not since the collapse of military rule has the country come so close to resembling a failed state. Following almost three months of political paralysis – before and after an inconclusive poll in May – Greece’s public finances are in tatters, its public administration is in disarray and its austerity-weary people are beaten down. It is now for Samaras to pick up the pieces. [..]

Late on Monday Samaras announced he had agreed with the head of Pasok, Evangelos Venizelos, to build a coalition, with negotiations expected to be concluded by Tuesday. Once bitter political rivals, the socialists, who came in with 12.3% of the vote, say the creation of a government of “national co-responsibility” is vital if Greece is to be steered through the crisis.

Combined, the two parties would control a comfortable majority of 162 seats in the Greek parliament. [..]

But fault lines in Greek society are so deep that even if a government is formed many believe it will be a miracle if it survives for long. To secure further rescue loans Athens has agreed to pass an extra €12bn in budget cuts, measures seen as vital if its economy is to reclaim competitiveness. And on Monday creditors led by Germany appeared in little mood to relent.The fiscal adjustment programme might be relaxed but “only marginally,” several officials said. “Greek society simply cannot endure any more measures,” insisted (New Democracy MP Kyriakos) Mitsotakis. “It’s not a question of what party is in office, it is a fact.”

German Chancellor Andrea Merkel, emboldened by the Greek center right narrow victory, has continued her hard line stand on enforcing the Greek deal

“The Greek government will and must naturally follow through on the commitments that were made,” Ms. Merkel told reporters at the Group of 20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, disappointing those in Athens who hoped for a signal of new flexibility toward Greece in the wake of the vote. “There can be no loosening of the reform steps.”

At least Greece has a Parliament. Egypt on the other hand is once again on the verge of revolution as the Muslim Brotherhood threatens to take to the streets once again in protest over the military usurpation of power:

The ruling generals sought for the first time to sell the public on the decision to dissolve the Brotherhood-led Parliament on the eve of the vote. In a nearly two-hour news conference that was edited before it was televised, two members of the military council insisted that they regretted dissolving Parliament, but that they had been forced by a court ruling from judges appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak.

And although they have now issued an interim Constitution keeping legislative and much of the executive power for themselves – and even said later Monday that they would appoint a general to run the new president’s staff – the generals promised to hold a “grand celebration” when they turned over power as promised at the end of the month. [..]

In their news conference, the generals acknowledged they would have a monopoly on all lawmaking powers as well as control of the national budget. But they said that the new president – they did not name Mr. Morsi – would retain a veto over any new laws and could name the prime minister as well as other cabinet officials.

The generals have not backed away from the initial charter that removed the military and the defense minister from presidential authority and oversight and defended the imposition of martial, arresting and detaining civilians for trials in military courts. They also took it upon themselves to appoint the new president’s chief of staff and revived a special national defense council packed with loyal military officers, charged with overseeing matters of national security. This is not going over very well with the Egyptian people.

The bright spot in all of these travails, the French who gave newly elected president François Hollande a majority in Parliament on Sunday, which is likely only to embolden his drive for more growth-oriented spending and a retreat from German-style austerity. But if everything you hear about Greece and Egypt sound familiar, it is.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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