November 30, 2015
Alexis Tsipras latest political move to engage opposition parties failed to take off with respect to pension reform and constitutional revision, and only got parties to agree on a common statement on the refugee crisis. Tsipras went into Saturday’s state council meeting with a proposal to set up two committees, one for pension and one for constitutional reform, asking party leaders to appoint representatives to these two committees, Kathimerini reports. Opposition leaders rejected this proposal, and then only reluctantly agreed on a joint statement to not lower the pensions, but firmly rejected any engagement to review the constitution with the government. A joint statement said only that there should be extensive debate when the bill comes to parliament to ensure a viable pension system and avoid further cuts in benefits.
The meeting was held on Saturday. Common ground was easier to find for the refugee crisis, ending in a joint statement ahead of the EU summit with Turkey.
It is not clear how sincere Tsipras’ overture towards the opposition parties was. There is certainly some political calculation behind it. The government now says the failure was to be expected, blaming the opposition parties for not taking responsibility. Reuters quotes an official saying that the government came up with measures worth 0.6% of GDP and just wanted opposition leaders to agree on the other 0.4%.
The attempt to engage opposition parties comes at a time after the government lost two seats of his majority and Syriza is in free fall in the polls. According to a poll by Kapa Research for To Vima, Syriza lost 17% of its electorate, only yielding 18.4% of the votes if there were elections today. In the poll there are 18% who said they would not go voting, 15% said they are undecided. New Democracy would get 14.9%, Golden Dawn 5.6% and Pasok 4.4%. Three parties currently in parliament - Centrist Union, To Potami and Independent Greeks - even won’t make it over the threshold.
Other interesting results in these polls are that a majority of 38% prefer a cross-party government, and that Tsipras is still considered the most suitable prime minster with 43.8%, according to Greek Reporter. Given that New Democracy is taken over by an internal battle over the leadership elections, Tsipras can get some comfort from this.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, used the relative weakness of Tsipras and his government, accusing Tsipras of running scared amid his slim majority in parliament, writes Macropolis.
Political stability is becoming a concern for Yannis Stournaras, Greece’s central bank governor, who went on television reminding party leaders that there had been a political consensus when they signed the third bailout programme in July and that this consensus should be maintained to ensure political stability and a definite exit from the crisis, Reuters quotes him saying.
The euro working group approved a new list of 13 measures Athens must vote into law by Dec. 11 to receive a €1bn aid tranche next month, Kathimerini reports. Greece will have to set up an independent general secretariat for state revenues, take steps to privatise its power grid operator or propose alternative plans to boost competition and set up a task force to prepare a new privatisation fund, the paper said. Pension reforms are not part of this list, but they are key to complete the first review.
We also have stories on the impact of the Paris attacks on the Italian economy, on Schauble’s plan to organise a blocking minority on the European deposit insurance directive; on the political meltdown of Syriza; on the economic meltdown of Greece; on a poll showing Ciudadanos in first place; on Spain’s economic recovery, on a reversal of privatisations in Portugal; on whether the SRF will start on time; on Slovakia’s decision to impose countercyclical buffers on its banks; on the transparency of bank reviews, and on the relationship between Schengen and the euro.