First to get the “horse race” out of the way, the “too close to call” election has a new poll today (6/1 – the Public Issue/Kathimerini poll – which had had SYRIZA – the left – leading by 4 points 5/24 now says that on 6/17 the coalition of the left called SYRIZA will beat all other parties by 5% by getting 31.5% of the vote – but there are many polls and after tomorrow it will be illegal to publish a poll lest the election be influenced by that poll). Below is a listing of recent polls:
Agency Date** ND SYRIZA PASOK I.G. KKE D.L. G.D.
*P.I. 1/6 25.5 31.5 13.5 5.5 5.5 7.5 4.5
KAPA 1/6 26.1 23.6 9.9 5.3 5.7 4.4 5.1
RASS 1/6 26.5 24.2 12.1 5.8 5.2 5.4 3.6
*MRB 31/5 27.6 26.0 14.6 7.1 4.7 6.6 5.4
*MARC 31/5 28.8 27.0 13.9 7.0 6.3 5.9 4.6
Alco 31/5 25.0 22.7 12.5 6.5 5.0 5.2 4.5
*D.RC 31/5 28.4 25.6 13.9 7.0 5.7 6.2 5.4
*Pulse 30/5 27.0 27.0 14.5 7.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
The Greek Reporter yesterday reported the EC still telling Greece that it must “make substantial additional expenditure cuts in the coming months” whilst stressing the need for previously agreed reforms to be implemented, while the ECB VP that served as temporary PM for Greece as it was given the bailout terms, Lucas Papademos, says that “Only limited readjustments can be made in the loan agreement and the new government will have limited room for maneuvering.” But after losing the ability to form a government in the first election, the two “leading parties”, left of center PASOK and right wing New Democracy, are no longer in lock step with Germany and now suggest those agreed spending cuts be spread over four to five years. Indeed Greece’s conservative New Democracy on Thursday promised voters tax cuts – not increases – if they win, saying the austerity measures can be made fairer. The conservative leader Antonis Samaras stated “… Our pledge is jobs, jobs, jobs. … No new taxes and no new cross-the-board cuts. The era of taxing incomes that do not exist is over.”
That it has taken a Greek population demonstrating its anti-austerity convictions through frequent strikes, violent demonstrations and even a public suicide in front of parliament over the past year to get left of center PASOK and right wing New Democracy to this point shows the incompetence of the political elite of both center left and the right. Still neither major party wants to change the fact that Greece’s shipping magnates and rich and corporate do not have to pay taxes via rules in the Greek Constitution and on the law books (This is the tax plan that is the goal of the Simpson-Bowles Tea Party GOP – sold by pretending it will cut the deficit – that old supply side economic thinking).
Meanwhile the 80% of Greek industries and businesses that are EU and foreign owned and/or controlled drain their profits out of Greece and deposited them in EU and other foreign banks outside Greece, as they pay little or no taxes. Neither party admits this is a tax problem or that there is a problem of an overvalued currency in a system that fights the idea of transfers between states that are exporters and states that are importers – transfers NY does every day as it sends its Federal collection to the poorer Southern States, – transfers Germany refuses to make.
So the political right wing running both major parties. center left and the right, sell fear so as to sell austerity – fear of a forced Greek exit from the Euro and of “certain catastrophe” and of “international isolation,” all but ignoring the fact that austerity measures have pushed Greece to a fifth year of recession, with a dramatic rise in unemployment and poverty among low-income sections of the country, as the right promises to restore some of the benefits cut, moving the poorest of the poor back to 2009 benefit levels, with unemployment benefits extended from one year to two. Stimulus, compassion – and austerity and no new taxes on the rich – sounds like America’s 2012 election, doesn’t it.
Meanwhile the leader of the real left (SYRIZA equates to the Democrats prior to blue dog Presidents and the current leaders of the Democratic Party), Tsipras, tells voters that while he has no desire to bring back the drachma, he does not believe that staying in the Euro requires the massive cuts in government spending to which Greece’s leaders have agreed as a condition of receiving international assistance over the last two years. Tsipras is trying to sell logic, noting that austerity — known in the country as “the memorandum” — is destroying Greece’s viability as a Eurozone member as those measures bring Greece closer to insolvency and default, panicking markets. And Tsipras is dangerous to the political elite because of his ability to take the complex and make a coherent political slogan, rejecting the idea that this election is a referendum on the Euro and saying the election is a referendum on the “memorandum.” Tsipras states his broad goals and refuses to get trapped in specifics, saying his criticisms of the debt deal are from a friendly hand extended toward the rest of the union, but suggesting the hand could be a fist – “We ask you to give power to Syriza in order to be as powerful as Greece,” but then saying a few sentences later: “We’re going to have the power to say, if you want to send us to the bottom, we will take you to the bottom too.”
Should be an interesting election.