Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rope-A-Dope in Greece?

So the win-win idea to hold a referendum is paying off for Greek P.M. George Papandreou, aka Γεώργιος Α. Παπανδρέου (pictured at left, with Antonis Samaras, aka Αντώνης Σαμαράς). His own socialist party rebelled against the idea, and he barely survived a no confidence vote. But it got the opposition party "New Democracy" to the negotiating table, and look at the result.

In a statement early Monday morning, the Greek Finance Ministry said that delegations from the Socialist Party and New Democracy met on Sunday “to discuss the time frame of the actions” to implement the debt deal, and added that the two parties regarded Feb. 19 as “the most appropriate date for elections.”

In reaching the agreement, Mr. Papandreou agreed to meet Mr. Samaras’s demand that he step down as prime minister, while Mr. Samaras agreed to back the debt deal and a seven-point plan of priorities proposed by Mr. Papandreou that would essentially commit the new government to the terms of the debt deal.

So Samaras's party seemed poised to trounce the Socialist in elections that must certainly come within the next few months. Now, the debt deal and the attendant consequences will be an albatross around the neck of New Democracy. I wonder if the Greek voters will react in a similar manner to American ones in 2008. (The link is to my analysis of why McCain lost.) Given the choice between an unsteady maverick who seems to have no clue or principle as to how to handle a financial crisis vs the representative of the party of government, Americans chose the Democrats. Might the Greeks choose Socialists in the next election for the same reason? New Democracy was against the austerity measures right up to the point of final crisis. They dropped opposition for a chance to share in power. How unprincipled does that look?

Note to Republicans, if you believe in your principles, dropping them in a crisis, like Bush did in 2008, won't bring your party electoral success. In fact, sticking by those principles is the only path to long term success.

In the meantime, one wonders if George Papandreou is a fan of Muhammed Ali, and if Antonis Samaras is ready to lead his nation.