GR Political Economy Digest #16

pavlopouleto

Habemus Pavlopoulos! As of today evening, Greece has a new President of the Democracy (PtD). Prokopis Pavlopoulos, former Minister for the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization (2004-2007) and Minister for the Interior and Public Order (2007-2009) with New Democracy, has just been voted as the new PtD. A lawyer and influential legal scholar in Greece, Pavlopoulos was nominated by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras himself on Tuesday noon.

But Pavlopoulos was both an unexpected and an unwelcome choice for the vast majority of the Greek people. He was unexpected because, up until the last moment, Greek media were almost certain that New Democracy’s Dimitris Avramopoulos (the current European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship) would be Tsipras’s pick. Moreover, the two other names thrown in the rumor frenzy by the press, former PM Kostas Karamanlis and former MEP Marietta Giannakou, did not point towards Provopoulos’s direction at all.  In a surprising move, and after not announcing his nomination as planned on Sunday night, Alexis Tsipras nominated Provopoulos instead yesterday.

But Pavlopoulos is also viewed as a highly unwelcome choice. He was Minister for the Interior and Public Order during the 2008 December riots that caused enormous damages in Athens and other major cities, but failed to handle the situation accordingly. He was heavily attacked back then, both by regular citizens who viewed their property being damaged or looted right in front of their eyes, and by the party of Syriza, who accused him, together with the police, for plotting various schemes and acts of brutality. Pavlopoulos is also infamous for authorizing more than 800,000 hirings in the public sector as a Minister for the New Democracy government, between 2004 and 2009. If the notion of ‘clientelism’ could be personified, he would definitely be one of the highest contenders for the title.

Despite all that, Pavlopoulos was eventually named the new PtD of Greece, voted by 233 MPs (out of a total of 300), including the majority of New Democracy MPs and former PM Antonis Samaras himself.

Leaving aside the election for the PtD, the Greek government has a lot of ground to cover in the days to come in order to secure the continuing financing of the country. But so does Germany and the rest of the Eurozone partners, if they aim to arrive at a substantive and meaningful deal with Greece. Accordingly, the ECB – which has emerged as a sort-of power broker in the past few weeks – has also a big role to play in all of this. Let us hope that both sides can pour some water in their wines, and meet somewhere halfway through, with the ECB acting as a constructive addition rather than impediment to an upcoming agreement. Otherwise, there is no way for this story to have a good ending. Time is running, and money running out. The sooner there is a deal, the better for Greece.

Addendum: It has come to my attention that few blogs and websites have linked to this post, with some people contesting the total number of hirings authorized by Pavlopoulos. Since this is an important issue, let me point you to a few more links on the subject matter. The accusations against Pavlopoulos have been leveled by the newspaper Ta Nea a while back. Indeed, not many other newspapers have delved into the matter, and Pavlopoulos has himself refuted the claims on a radio-show once. Nevertheless, there has been no official statement from neither Pavlopoulos, nor New Democracy to refute the total number of the hirings (that I know of). And even if there is, and the (yet to be disputed) number is wrong, one thing is for sure: Pavlopoulos did authorize the hiring of a hell lot of people during his tenure. He did nurture the clientelistic Greek state even further. And that is a sad reality.

The top articles on the Greek political economy to read before you go to bed tonight are:

  1. What deal could be struck to keep Greece in the Eurozone?, by Raoul Ruparel | Open Europe, Feb 18 2015
  2. Greece to submit loan request to euro zone, Germany resists, by Renee Maltezou and John O’Donnell | Reuters, Feb 18 2015
  3. Greece gets lifeline as ECB agrees €3.3bn extra emergency funds, by Jennifer Rankin, Graeme Wearden and Helena Smith | The Guardian, Feb 18 2015
  4. Greece’s game of chicken is starting to get dangerous, by Matt O’ Brien | The Washington Post, Feb 18 2015
  5. Power broker in Greek debt crisis could be the E.C.B., by Jack Ewing | The New York Times, Feb 18 2015
  6. Greece’s key pledges and requests at the Eurogroup meetings | Macropolis.gr, Feb 18 2015
  7. Calling Greece’s loan-agreement bluff: A giant red herring, by Gabriele Steinhauser and Viktoria Dendrinou | The Wall Street Journal, Feb 18 2015
  8. The world-historic depths of Greece’s economic misery, charted, by Jordan Weissman | Slate (Moneybox), Feb 18 2015
  9. Kammenos makes media threat, compares euro talks to resistance against Ottomans | Kathimerini, Feb 18 2015
  10. Even as progressives take lead in Greece, women remain out of power, by Joanna Kakissis | NPR, Feb 18 2015
  11. Why Angela Merkel is holding firm on Greece, by Mark Gilbert | The Chicago Tribune, Feb 17 2015
  12. Give Greece Room to Maneuver, by the Editorial Board | The New York Times, Feb 17 2015
  13. PM Tsipras declares war at home on Greece’s ‘oligarchs’, by Stephen Grey | Reuters, Feb 17 2015

Photo: Ilias Makris (Kathimerini)

GR Political Economy Digest #11

ALEKSISThe Greek elections might be over, but both domestic and international eyes will still be fully focused on the country for a while. Today, the newly formed government of SYRIZA and ANEL (i.e. Independent Greeks) announced the new Greek cabinet (more to follow on that in the next few days). The new government is tasked with a tremendous weight. It has proposed to break with the path of austerity and follow a more confrontational stance with our international lenders and European partners. In the upcoming weeks, the government of SYRIZA-ANEL will have to take some monumental decisions about the fate of Greece and the country’s economic orientation. Based on their populist-extremist, anti-austerity, and anti-euro(pean) rhetoric up to now, it seems to be ready to make a huge break with the past. Will they continue to remain as firmly adamant as they have proclaimed in the past three years, or will we start witnessing one ‘kolotoumba’ after the other? Stay tuned for updates…

Here are the hottest articles on the Greek political economy that you need to read today:

  1. Greece debt repayment in full is ‘unrealistic’ says Syriza | BBC News Europe, 27 Jan 2015
  2. Greece and Europe dig in on bailout terms after Syriza victory in Greek election, by Matthew Karnitschnig and Gabriele Steinhauser | The Wall Street Journal, Jan 27 2015
  3. European equity rally halted by Greece and weak corporate figures | Reuters, Jan 27 2015
  4. Greek bonds, stocks drop as leaders to spar on writedown, by Lucy Meakin | Bloomberg BussinessWeek, Jan 27 2015
  5. Greek Elections: Syriza’s Tsipras faces great expectations, by Giorgos Christides | BBC News, Jan 27 2015
  6. ECB, Syriza have broken euro zone’s German spells, by Pierre Briancon | Reuters Blogs, Jan 27 2015
  7. Greek Elections: Why Syriza is ‘playing with fire’ by joining forces with racist Anel, by Gianluca Mezzofiore and Gareth Platt | International Bussiness Times, Jan 27 2015
  8. Europe’s populists hail Syriza win in Greek elections from Left and Right, by Marcus Walker, Jason Douglas and William Horobin | The Wall Street Journal, Jan 27 2015
  9. Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras’s picks new Greek cabinet, by Graeme Wearden | The Guardian, Jan 27 2015
  10. Macro Horizons: Is Greece still the word?, by Allen Mattich and Michael J. Casey | The Wall Street Journal, JanMatthew Karnitsching & Gabriele Steinhauser | The Wall Street Journal, 26 Jan 2015
  11. Greece: Think Flows, Not Stocks, by Paul Krugman | The New York Times, 26 Jan 2015
  12. Greece’s new finance minister learned about tearing down capitalism from working at a video game company, by Tim Fernholz | Quartz, Jan 26 2015
  13. Profile: Greece’s new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, by Phillip Inman and Katie Allen | The Guardian, Jan 26 2015
  14. Syriza’s win: Greece turns, Europe wobbles | The Economist, Jan 26 2015