Greece: Under International Pressure, ‘Unity’ Government Forms… Without Elections

The New York Times has the basics. In short, the wealthier euro-zone nations pressured Greece to support a debt deal and pass austerity measures:

The debt deal requires that the Greek Parliament pass a new round of deeply unpopular austerity measures, including layoffs of government workers, in a climate of growing social unrest.

P.M. Papandreou has agreed to resign, and, according to the NYT, to hold “early elections.” Our regular Greek commenter, L’Enfant de la Haute Mer, says it is not even clear at this point who the new P.M. will be, and suggests that it is unprecedented to dissolve a government without promptly preparing for elections. Here’s L’Enfant:

Today is a very difficult day for us over here: a new coalition government after dark and undemocratic agreement of the two main parties.
We do not even know who the PM will be, anyway it does not matter. Transfer of power to a new government without elections !!!

How would you call that?

How she calls it is by a neologism: “Democtatorship.” I hope it does not happen in Greece, and I hope it does not spread to the rest of the world’s representative democracies.

UPDATE: here is an additional comment from L’Enfant:

They are talking about February 19th, 2012, but nothing is certain.

They need this government to immediately sign the second loan agreement (about which we know absolutely nothing).
Extreme poverty awaits the Greek people for many decades into increasingly harsh austerity.

After this government has done the “dirty work”, elections will have no importance whatsoever.

please, besides other sources, have a look here:

I haven’t read the linked blog yet, beyond noting that Mr. Varoufakis is speaking in Toronto today. That blog is in English; feel free to do my work for me!

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  • upyernoz  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Today is a very difficult day for us over here: a new coalition government after dark and undemocratic agreement of the two main parties.
    We do not even know who the PM will be, anyway it does not matter. Transfer of power to a new government without elections !!!

    i’m curious what the greek constitution says. i mean, are they required to call an election before forming a new coalition? if so, then i would think there would be a solid basis for blocking the new government in court and to force the greeks to hold a snap election before the new coalition forms. if not (that is, if the constitution does not require elections), then, well, it might be unusual, but that doesn’t make it a dictatorship. it just means the system permits politicians to delay direct accountability in these circumstances.

    • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      The Constitution has been violated, repeatedly.
      Greece is somehow a German protectorate.

      The Final Blackmail of Baron Papandreou:

      • upyernoz  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm


        what part of the constitution has been violated by forming a new coalition government without holding elections? i found this english translation of the greek constitution online. can you point me to a particular article and section?

        i’m not arguing with you, i’m just curious. i agree that greece seems to be turning into at least an economic colony of germany (and to a lesser degree, france). but is that illegal under greek law or are the EU technocrats just finding a clever way to game the system?

  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    1. –
    Article 36.2.
    “Conventions on trade, taxation, economic cooperation and participation in international organizations or unions and all others containing concessions for which, according to other provisions of this Constitution, no provision can be made without a statute, or which may burden the Greeks individually, shall not be operative without ratification by a statute voted by the Parliament.”

    From today (May 7, 2010), any financial measures follow at the behest of the troika (IMF, European Commission, ECB) will be adopted upon a simple information of Members and certainly without the approval of parliament. The parliament itself voted this shame!!

  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Article 37
    1. The President of the Republic shall appoint the Prime Minister and on his recommendation shall appoint and dismiss the other members of the Cabinet and the Undersecretaries.
    * 2. The leader of the party having the absolute majority of seats in Parliament shall be appointed Prime Minister. If no party has the absolute majority, the President of the Republic shall give the leader of the party with a relative majority an exploratory mandate in order to ascertain the possibility of forming a Government enjoying the confidence of the Parliament.
    * 3. If this possibility cannot be ascertained, the President of the Republic shall give the exploratory mandate to the leader of the second largest party in Parliament, and if this proves to be unsuccessful, to the leader of the third largest party in Parliament. Each exploratory mandate shall be in force for three days. If all exploratory mandates prove to be unsuccessful, the President of the Republic summons all party leaders, and if the impossibility to form a Cabinet enjoying the confidence of the Parliament is confirmed, he shall attempt to form a Cabinet composed of all parties in Parliament for the purpose of holding parliamentary elections. If this fails, he shall entrust the President of the Supreme Administrative Court or of the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court or of the Court of Auditors to form a Cabinet as widely accepted as possible to carry out elections and dissolves Parliament.
    * 4. In cases that a mandate to form a Cabinet or an exploratory mandate is given in accordance with the aforementioned paragraphs, if the party has no leader or party spokesman, or if the leader or party spokesman has not been elected to Parliament, the President of the Republic shall give the mandate to a person proposed by the party’s parliamentary group. The proposal for the assignment of a mandate must occur within three days of the Speaker’s or his Deputy’s communication to the President of the Republic about the number of seats possessed by each party in Parliament; the aforesaid communication must take place before any mandate is given.
    *Interpretative clause:
    As far as exploratory mandates are concerned, when parties have an equal number of seats in Parliament, the one having acquired more votes at the elections, precedes the other. A recently formed party with a parliamentary group, as provided by the Standing Orders of Parliament, follows an older one with an equal number of seats. In both these instances, exploratory mandates cannot be given to more than four parties.

    .. to be continued… (expecting also the constitution specialists to speak out!!!)

  • Steve  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Allow me to interject a word here directed at upyernoz (who, by the way, Enfant, is an attorney, and from what I know of what he does for a living, he is “on the side of the angels”). upyernoz, our U.S. Constitution makes no mention of parties whatsoever (unless I missed something), and thus has no set of rules like the ones above. This is because ours is not a parliamentary democracy. But think for a moment: what if Obama and (say) Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, in a secret meeting, formed and later announced a “unity government”? Imagine further that the U.S. were under pressure from a foreign nation or group of nations to make major changes to its economy, and this “unity government” proposed to make those exact changes; how would you react?

    OK, I admit it… the U.S. doesn’t need foreign intervention to do the worst possible damage to its own economy; we can do damage without any help. But imagine the Greeks are more sensible than that… you see where I’m heading.

    • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      (half irrelevant):

      The global debt clock: interactive overview of government debt across the planet

    • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      “collaboration” or “collaborationist” government.
      They do not govern: they obey to EU orders

    • upyernoz  On Tuesday November 8, 2011 at 9:17 am

      thanks for the kind words steve!

      yeah, i understand that greece is a parliamentary democracy (most, if not all of europe is)

      as for your hypothetical, the obama-mcconnel-boehner deal would be completely legal. under our system, elections are scheduled at regular intervals regardless of the political coalitions and alliances that form in congress. in parliamentary democracies, the deals themselves (or lack thereof) can trigger elections. that’s why i asked l’enfant to identify what part of the greek constitution was violated when there was a new coalition formed without an election.

      again, i’m not trying to criticize l’enfant. i know very little about the greek constitution or what circumstances trigger an election under their system. i was just trying to figure out if the new coalition is just a bad idea, or whether it is both a bad idea and violates the greek constitution.

      and if it does violate the greek constitution, is anyone rushing to court to block it? that is certainly how it would play out here, but we are a litigious people.

  • Bryan  On Monday November 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    This is cowardice of the first order on the part of the Greek politicians. They want to create a situation where they have ‘plausible deniability’. They feel they have to agree to the EU demands, but don’t want to take any responsibility for their actions.

    They are making this up as they go along, and when the election does come, they will claim that it wasn’t their fault.

    This is the sort of thing that happened under ‘the colonels’ when I was spending a lot of time in Greece in the early 1970s. Every time we landed we got a list of the changes since the last time we deployed. Those were ‘interesting times’ that I would hate to see repeated – I don’t like things that go bang.

    • Steve  On Tuesday November 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

      Bryan (and of course Enfant) – that’s what it looks like, doesn’t it. The banksters of the wealthier euro nations seem determined (and able) to put countries like Greece and possibly Italy on the spot, to force some truly unconscionable “agreements” out of them, and to drive austerity measures… all so German and French banks will not lose money on their loans to other countries. And as you say, Greece’s politicians are saying, yes sir, thank you sir, may I please have some more. Then again, our American politicians aren’t doing any better at confronting our own banksters with all their blatantly criminal actions…

      (Aside to L’Enfant: “bankster” is a derogatory term derived, I presume, from “banker” and “huckster” or perhaps “banker” and “gangster”. It describes the CEOs of the larger banks perfectly.)

      • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday November 8, 2011 at 1:52 am

        Banksters (also Bank$ter$)
        A portmanteau of “banker” and “gangster”, popularized by (among others) the economist Murray N. Rothbard, used by him to attack what he held to be the inherently fraudulent nature of Fractional-Reserve banking (as opposed to 100% gold reserve banking, which he defended as the only honest form of banking). Frequently used in reference to The Fed.

        [09:50 a.m., coming back later in the afternoon]

  • L’Enfant de la Haute Mer  On Tuesday November 8, 2011 at 3:12 am

    I argue against the following seven myths:
    • Myth #1: Default or “bankruptcy” would be catastrophic for Greece.
    • Myth #2: The (EU/ECB/IMF) troika’s objective is to “rescue” Greece.
    • Myth #3: The main cause of the crisis is the corruption of Greeks and the Greek State
    • Myth #4: If only the Greek government were competent, the targets of the Memorandum would not fail.
    • Myth #5: Following the troika’s policies will lead Greece back to prosperity.
    • Myth #6: Exit from the Eurozone would be the worst possible outcome.
    • Myth #7: In its negotiations with the troika, the Greek government has very little bargaining power.

    Seven Myths about the Greek Debt Crisis*
    Stergios Skaperdas
    Department of Economics
    University of California, Irvine
    October 28, 2011
    Modified on October 31, 2011

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