Saturday, May 5, 2012

Is Samaras in a good position?

The way I understand Greek election law, the head of the largest party gets 3 days to form a coalition government (unless his party already has a majority). If he fails, that task moves on the head of the second largest party. And so on.

Three things seem fairly certain: (a) ND/PASOK will not reach a combined majority; (b) Samaras (ND) will come out first and (c) Venizelos (PASOK) will come out second. I emphasize the words fairly certain because everything seems possible at this stage of the game.

In the above sceanrio, Samaras would have 3 days to form a coalition government and I see no way how he could accomplish that without Venizelos. So, Samaras is condemned to be successful with Venizelos because otherwise he is out of luck.

It is in Venizelos' hands to make Samaras successful or not. Obviously, he will not do anything that could be deemed "destructive" at such a critical stage of the country. On the contrary, he has already said that a ND/PASOK coalition (including perhaps others) would have to be the solution and he has already said that he did not have to be No. 1 in a new government. Thus, Venizelos has made himself invulnerable to any possible attacks of "playing partisan games".

But there are so many other ways, nice and subtle ones, to block Samaras from reaching a deal with Venizelos. And 3 days can pass very quickly! If they pass without success for Samaras, the man will be brandmarked as a loser.

Should Venizelos reach the point where he is asked to form a government, he starts from a much better position than Samaras. First of all, Samaras will be discredited even within his own party, opening the door for Venizelos to negotiate with someone else and, secondly, that someone else might be a more sensible man than Samaras is.

Whichever way I slice it, I would prefer to be in Venizelos' position rather than in Samaras'.

UPDATE after the first exit-poll
Ooops, a small detail obviously escaped me. I had never even considered that PASOK's second place might be in danger. Now it looks very much like it will be. So much for predictions...


  1. Does the party with the largest number of votes still get the 50 seat bonus for coming first, and if they do then are you taking that into account.

    Re Venizelos playing games, he has spent a lot of time with the Germans recently, and they know all about playing games with coalitions. The NRW election next week is a fiasco, if someone takes it to Constitutional court in Karlshrue and they find that the elections were held under false pretenses then that could have repercussions for Merkel. Because it could call into question her idea of forming a grand coalition government before next years federal election.

    You asked the other day which of Sundays election people people will be paying more attention. I'll be watching France more closely, although it seems a foregone conclusion that Hollande will win, But it should provide a form guide to the Assembly elections in June - based on how many and where people vote.

    France matters in Europe, in Africa and even to some extent in the Indian and Pacific basins, whereas Greece doesn't matter much anywhere, not even in Greece, now its being run by the Germans and Finns.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Samaras and Veninzelos haven't already stitched up a deal based on their private polling.


  2. I derive my knowledge of how Greek elections work from this very interesting analysis:

    Yes, I am taking into account the 50-seats-gift but I would be extremely surprised if ND could get 151 seats on their own. Thus, ND and PASOK seem to be condemned for one another.