Yesterday’s signs of an early breakthrough between PASOK (under the leadership of Evangelos Venizelos) and the Democratic Left (under the leadership of Fotis Kouvelis) crumbled today after it became clear that Kouvelis’s idea of a unity government must include the more radical SYRIZA (under the leadership of Alexis Tsipras).
Any unity government would also have to feature New Democracy (under the leadership of Antonis Samaras), which, as the top vote-winner in Sunday’s election, will hold 108 seats in the Hellenic parliament.
But as I noted yesterday, New Democracy and SYRIZA are simply too far apart in their approaches to the bailout in order to form any viable coalition.
Indeed, if any broad pro-bailout coalition were possible, Samaras would have likely formed it when he had the first opportunity to form a government earlier this week. If any broad anti-austerity coalition were possible, Tsipras, whose SYRIZA finished a strong second in Sunday’s election would have likely formed it as well.
Meanwhile, Samaras has attacked Tsipras and SYRIZA in a lively forecast of the right’s attack in any future election campaign. With Sunday’s election behind us, the battle lines are clearly drawn, and a new election will be a clearer showdown between the Samaras view and the Tsipras view — Samaras will run as the champion of austerity, arguing that it’s the only way to guarantee Greece’s continued membership in the eurozone; Tsipras will run as the champion of renegotiating Greece’s position, arguing that the current deal is strangling any chance of economic growth in Greece.
If the talks crumble, as expected, Greece’s president will bring together the top party leaders for one last attempt to implore a national unity government; if that fails, the next option will be new elections in June — polls show that new elections would find Tsipras’s hand strengthen and the anti-austerity left in a much clearer position to form a government.