December 01, 2015
Alexis Tsipras is bracing for another battle to get his pension reform through parliament. With only 153 lawmakers on side, there is a risk that his majority will crumble and that he will be forced to accept an all-party government, according to Greek Reporter. Syriza’s parliamentary group will convene today, and on Saturday the 2016 budget will be voted, a test vote showing how strong the majority is indeed. Kathimerini says the pension reform proposal will probably be presented this week.
Analysts expect Tsipras to tell Syriza MPs that they have to bear the consequences if they vote against or abstain the bill. By blaming New Democracy and Pasok for failing to support the government he created the “necessary enemy” that might help him to close his own ranks behind an internally controversial pension reform, writes To Vima.
Speculation is also running high about whether the small Union of Centrists party would join the government coalition. Its leader Vassilis Leventis appeared to be more prepared for cooperation than the other opposition parties, writes EKathimerini. Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili dismissed speculation that Tsipras might not have a majority in parliament by saying that “the government majority [is] not in danger but it is quite likely to be boosted in the future.” Leventis threw in his gauntlet saying on the radio that he knows of 11 Syriza lawmakers who will vote against the reforms, according to Greek Reporter. He said he is all in favour of an all-party government.
Declan Costello from the European Commission warned against increasing the employers' pension contribution that is part of the current plan. Last Saturday, political parties agreed that there should be no more cuts to pensions, so the adjustment is to come from more contributions. Costello said that higher employer contributions will not help to create jobs.
New Democracy is currently not in a position to benefit from Syriza’s internal divisions over the pension reform. If their party committee cannot seal a deal to guarantee party leader’s elections in two weeks, those will have to be postponed until the new year, To Vima reports. This will hardly calm down the explosive mood inside the party where the blame game is in full gear. There are many opinions on how to proceed and who to blame for the failed elections.
Euclid Tsakalotos aims for debt relief talks to be concluded in February, but this requires the successful conclusion of the first review of the third programme and another set of prior actions. Given that the first batch of prior actions already took longer than initially envisaged, the February deadline seems ambitious, Reuters quotes eurozone officials. Tsakalotos warned against postponing debt relief, saying that failing to provide a clear pathway for Greece would also leave uncertainty hanging over the whole euro zone. He said Athens was taking all measures required to complete a successful first review of its programme in December and open negotiations on debt relief right away.
We also have stories on the latest German inflation data and what they might tell us about Thursday’s ECB meeting; on the impact of the inclusion of the renminbi on the euro’s share in the SDR; on the decision by Fitch to withdraw its ratings for the debt of Madrid; on the diverging policy priorities of France and Germany; and on the importance of German wage moderation for the eurozone crisis narrative.