French and Greek election results open thread

Francois Hollande has been elected French President, after promising to work for more growth and to renegotiate the EU fiscal compact.

Initial results from the Greek parliamentary elections suggest a shake-up, with the left-wing Syriza party and a neo-Nazi party gaining ground at the expense of the two old coalition parties, New Democracy and Pasok. There is talk of the new government (when and if it emerges to be sworn in by the men in beards) seeking to “amend” the EU bail-out package for the country.

What does it all mean?

Are these welcome outbreaks of democracy which will lead to a reinvigorated EU economy?

Or are we all doomed?

Or is the future somewhere in the middle of those two extremes?

Open thread

Please use the comments facility to add your reactions. Over to you …

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is Wednesday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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15 Comments

  • Paul Murray 7th May '12 - 10:40am

    I expect that M. Hollande will be find a letter in the drawer saying something like “Cher François. Il n’y a pas d’argent. Beaucoup d’amour, Nicholas”.

    The more immediate concern is surely Greece where the two “main” parties have been unable to muster half the seats between them. The implosion in support for both of them meant that neither had any moral mandate to govern and now it turns out that they can’t even cobble together a majority while the other parties are fractured and fractious. Greece appears to be quite literally ungovernable right now.

    In this democratic vacuum what are the odds of the military stepping in?

  • I’d echo Paul’s comment: it looks as if the pro-Austerity parties in Greece simply don’t have the numbers to put together a working coalition. Indeed, neither Right nor Left can put together the numbers without bringing in an extreme element. I think the military will come in if the instability persists.

    This is a very dangerous time, to quote Yeats, “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold…the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Out of this crisis, indeed what “rough beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”?

  • I suspect the Troika creditors, will reinforce their European Commission’s task force based in Athens first. Then after a few days of ‘no credible government’, they will ask the Greek people to vote again, and again and again until they get it right. As the Irish found out with their EU referendum, ‘the people’ can only be allowed democracy, so long as they get the right outcome.

  • Simon Titley 7th May '12 - 1:38pm

    Here’s an interesting reaction from Robert Reich (which neither socialists not market fundamentalists will like):
    http://robertreich.org/post/22542609387

  • Paul Murray 7th May '12 - 6:34pm

    Well that didn’t take long, did it? Samaras was given three days to try to construct a coalition but he has just said that he cannot form a government and has handed the mandate back to the Greek President. John Dunn (above) looks to be right in everything except timing – it wasn’t “a few days” it was “a few minutes”.

  • Radicalibral 7th May '12 - 8:19pm

    Does the problem with the outcome of the Greek Election rest with their Electoral System which seemed to have an inbuilt advantage to what were the traditional parties by giving them a 50 seat advantage? Perhaps the important concern for Lib Dems should not only be the Economy but the Democratic Deficit resulting from trying to ignore the outcome of the Electorate making inconvenient decisions in the rest of Europe. It is possible to ignore only 2 countries making decisions that they no longer wish to pursue the austerity agenda but can the markets really ignore the democratic wish of a great many more European peoples making the same decision in their own Elections?
    If we do this then the “democratic strain” will become a series Social as well as an Economic problem. In the same way ignoring 2 European Countries not wishing to follow the austerity agenda could be dangerous, allowing 1 European country to dictate the agenda for the whole of Europe is even more dangerous. Depsite Germany’s best intentions for the future of Europe it cannot be allowed to decide the Economic direction of Europe by itself. The noises coming out of Germany about seemingly wanting to ignore the Election result in France is a recipe for disaster for the future of Europe leaving to one side what message it gives to the markets. We cannot have a situation where Govts are not left with the ultimate right of self determination if that is the will expressed by the people of that country in very clear terms. To ignore the will of the people in this circumstance leads to the potential to anarchy, and more seriously for those who campaign for this to happen the end of the EU.
    @ Simon Titley I think Robert Reich mixes up the right of European Countries to Self Determination with some misplaced fear of a US vision of European Democratic Socialism

  • I have not taken the interest I should have done in Greek politics since the days of the Colonels, but it seems to me that the big danger of a second election is, as Richard Gadsden implies (although PASOK was not anti Memorandum), that Syriza might be able to attach one or more of the other leftist parties to its extraordinary coalition of groupuscules, plus some more PASOK defectors, and thus emerge as the largest party. This would give it the ‘to the victor the spoils’ bonus of 50 seats which was designed to create stable government. I imagine that the politicians have weakened the armed forces since the return of democratic rule so that another military coup would be much more difficult. It would also mean the immediate suspension of Greece from participation in the institutions of the EU, although what that would mean in practice has yet to be tested. Much as I have criticised the way the leadership of the Liberal Democrats have played their hand in the coalition I do believe that our steadfastness in doing what is right for the country has been important in preventing a possible Greek-style political meltdown here. We are making the wrong people pay the price for that though, just as the entrenched political class did in Greece.

  • “Radical Party of the Left / Parti Radical de Gauche (“PRG”)”

    Some mistake surely?

  • @Bob Wootton
    Your point that the present global situation is as much to do with cybernetics as it is with politics is, I believe, very accurate. But it will be lost on many who perhaps do not see the feedback loops the science of cybernetics bring.
    ‘It’s the economy stupid’!! Actually, its growth.
    When the world economy is growing, (as it was till about 2007), the (good cybernetic), negative feedback loop, ensures that all can benefit from the growing wealth that ensues. Or as we sometimes hear ‘All boats lift in a rising tide’.
    However, when growth falters, wealth falters. At this point the (bad cybernetic), positive feedback loop kicks in, (approx Oct 2008). As wealth falters, followed by economic contraction and then austerity, we find ourselves in ‘belt tightening mode’, and ‘All in this together’
    It’s a very natural reaction (albeit selfish), to hope that everyone else, has to tighten their belts, … except us. Also many of the anomalies that existed in the growing period like benefit cheats, tax evaders, (you add to this list as you see fit), were also ignored to a degree. But now in the No growth, or contraction phase, we notice those anomalies much more. Inside we shout, “If we have to tighten our belts,… why aren’t they!!!”
    This also goes the heart of Bobs comment as the (left right) swings are essentially attempting to pull us between these two feedback loops.
    I’ll stop the rambling here, save to say that if you can solve the ‘Growth dilemma’, you will more than likely solve many of the present troubling issues.

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