Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to Greece

It seemed all set yesterday. The Prime Minister of Luxembourg announced the date of the Greek referendum (December 4 or 5) not waiting for the parliamentary vote of confidence or the Greek President to do the necessary and George Papandreou was told by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy that Greece cannot have any more money until they sort this mess out. (EUReferendum was being updates as it happened.) That should concentrate their minds, thought I.

Came the morn and the situation has changed. It seems that Papandreou's government may fall tomorrow or even today and he might be removed from being PASOK's leader. The Guardian says
The Greek government stands on the point of collapse, with the country set for a general election over membership of the euro rather than the referendum planned for early December.

Calls for a national unity government embracing the opposition also intensified as EU political leaders and financial markets demanded an end to the regional uncertainty unleashed by a small country on the periphery of the eurozone and called for measures to prevent a slide into Europe-wide slump.

George Papandreou called an emergency meeting of his cabinet for noon local time (10am GMT) on Thursday after his finance minister broke ranks over the referendum and several socialist deputies quit or threatened to quit his Pasok bloc in parliament.

Papandreou's political survival both as prime minister and head of the Pasok party will be determined by the cabinet meeting. Filing into parliament for the session MPs said they would listen to the leader's assessment of the Cannes meeting before they "made up their minds" as to whether to back the confidence motion.
A government of national unity, eh? Now that really will sort them out. What will the armed forces say?

Reuters says that the Prime Minister has not resigned and, according to his chief of staff, "does not intend to". Certainly not. The link will take you to an "as it happens" thread on the news agency's site, produced in delightfully old-fashioned typewritten scroll.

UPDATE: It seems that the Greek Cabinet is still in session (oh to be a fly on the wall with adequate knowledge of Greek) but the odds are not good for the Prime Minister.
Greek state television says Mr Papandreou will meet Greek President Karolos Papoulias immediately after the cabinet talks.

The BBC's Mark Lowen, in Athens, says Mr Papandreou is expected to offer a coalition government with a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, Lucas Papademos, at the helm.

Mr Papandreou himself is expected to step aside, our correspondent says.

He says three Pasok MPs have now said they will not vote for Mr Papandreou in the confidence motion on Friday.

Several others, including government ministers, have criticised the referendum plan, calling instead for Mr Papandreou to resign or for a government of national unity.
Meanwhile, I note that the worship of plebiscite goes on with numerous eurosceptics making a hero out of a crafty, self-serving politician.

UPDATE: BBC says Papandreou will offer to resign.
He is expected to offer a coalition government, with former Greek central banker Lucas Papademos at the helm.
The Cabinet meeting appears to be still going on.

UPDATE (12.52): Cabinet meeting still going on and the colleagues are considering a eurozone without Greece. Ought to have done that a long time ago.

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