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Greece set to elect government that would veto CETA

Greece parliament

The Old Royal Palace houses the Greek parliament.

Greece will go to the polls in a national election in just ten days. The speculation is that SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left) will win that election on January 25. Significantly, this party has stated if elected it would not ratify the Canada-European Union ‘free trade’ agreement.

Reuters reports, “Greece’s radical leftist Syriza party holds a steady 3.5 point lead over the ruling conservatives ahead of a snap election on Jan. 25, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday. A clutch of recent polls have given Syriza a lead of over 3 percentage points, suggesting that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy conservatives are not making any inroads as the election approaches.” The Alco poll gives SYRIZA 32.4 per cent of the vote and New Democracy 28.9 per cent.

A party would need between 36 and 40 per cent of the vote to form a majority government in the Greek parliament. The article notes, “Opinion polls so far have indicated that Syriza is unlikely to win outright, but some have suggested it is getting closer to that goal. …The newly created centrist party To Potami (River) – the most likely ally for Syriza in a coalition government, according to analysts – ranked third in the Alco survey with 5.3 percent. It was followed by the far-right Golden Dawn, with 5.2 percent, and the Communist KKE after that.”

In December 2013, the BBC reported, “The leftist SYRIZA bloc, the main opposition group, rejects the EU-Canada deal. ‘A SYRIZA-led government will veto the agreement’, says Thanassis Petrakos, a SYRIZA MP.” This past October, the SYRIZA delegation at the European Parliament issued a media release that stated, “The SYRIZA Delegation categorically opposes the ratification of these agreements [CETA and the EU-United States Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] and calls the Greek population to participate in the pan-European mobilisation against [them]…”

Greek media has also reported that SYRIZA “would cancel the [Skouries] gold mine contract if it comes to power.”

Today’s news report highlights, “The vote is being closely watched by financial markets nervous that a Syriza victory could trigger a standoff with EU/IMF lenders that results in Greece leaving the euro zone. The party has vowed to cancel austerity measures imposed to meet the conditions of Greece’s 240-billion-euro bailout, and to renegotiate debt obligations.”

In relation to austerity-driven efforts to privatize water services, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has stated, “We deem that public commodities such as water or energy must remain under state control. The record of privatizations in other countries is quite negative. It encouraged profiteering in pricing and a dramatic decline in the living standards for the weaker members of society. But this undeniable fact tends to be omitted from public debate. What we need is public, economically sound and efficient public utilities.”

The last parliamentary election took place in Greece in June 2012. In that election, Greek prime minister Samaras’ New Democracy party won 129 seats (with 29.66 per cent of the vote), while SYRIZA won 71 seats (with 26.89 per cent of the vote).

Further reading
SYRIZA government in Greece would veto CETA (December 2013 blog)
Our Right to Water: Case studies on austerity and privatization in Europe (March 2012 Blue Planet Project report)
Council of Canadians co-sponsors speaking tour against Skouries mine (May 2013 blog)