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Party opposed to CETA poised to win likely Greek election in February

The Old Royal Palace houses the Greek parliament.
The Old Royal Palace houses the Greek parliament.

If the Greek parliament does not elect a new president on Monday it is likely the country will face a snap election on February 1. The speculation is that SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left) would win that election. Notably, this party has stated if elected it would not ratify the Canada-European Union ‘free trade’ agreement.

Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras is trying to avoid this election by getting the required 180 members of parliament to vote for his choice for president, former European commissioner Stavros Dimas. In the first round of voting (on December 17) Dimas received 160 votes, and in the second round (on December 23) 168 votes.

The Guardian reports, “Failure would automatically trigger elections that radical leftists would be likely to win.”

Reuters notes, “Recent opinion polls show Samaras’ conservative New Democracy party is narrowing the gap with the left-wing Syriza party, which wants to renegotiate Greece’s international bailout and roll back austerity measures, but still trails by around three points. …An opinion poll on Saturday by the Alco polling institute showed Syriza leading over New Democracy by 3.3 points, a slightly narrower lead than in the previous poll. If elections were held now, Syriza would get 28.3 percent while Samaras’ New Democracy would get 25 percent.”

Last December, 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.”

And 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). If an election is averted on Monday, the next election would take place no later than June 16, 2016.

Photo: The Old Royal Palace houses the Greek parliament.