I can pinch my nose and vote for those I despise, but do me a favour and don’t gloat.

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This is the door of my grandfather’s (ex) shop in Ioannina, that has been shut for years, with some interesting modern grafitti

On the evening of the January ’15 election, I was delighted with Syriza’s win and I expressed the hope that this popular rejection of austerity would offer Europe a chance to change course and move away from an orthodoxy that had failed everyone. Sadly it was not meant to be, both because Syriza turned out to realise the worst of my fears, and because Europe reacted to Greek demands with almost complete disdain.

What happened since has been documented extensively in the posts of this blog. There is no point in taking you again through my gradual disillusionment with Syriza over the course of the year. We are currently facing another election in Greece. On the 20th of September the Greeks will get to vote again on how they feel about the available teams offering to guide the country through this abysmal mess. I explained briefly in another post why Mr Tsipras does not deserve to be PM again, and tried here to self-identify politically.

All this brings us to the crux of this issue. Who does one vote for in this election? In order to answer this question we must first identify what the goal of the selection should be. The goal (for me at least) is to secure Greece’s position in the Eurozone, and crucially in the EU; to allow for normalisation of the economic situation that allows Greece to benefit from the ECB bond buying programme, bring about a relaxation to the liquidity problem and a lifting of capital controls. It is my belief (for a variety of reasons explained at length in other posts) that Greece’s only chance of exiting the crisis is through Europe and cooperation with our creditors. It will take a long time, it will be painful, but it is better than the Drachma wrapped alternative of Prof Lapavitsas and his Popular Unity buddies. Way better.

If the aim is the preservation of Greece’s European trajectory, which formation/party in this election can ensure it? We all know that it is not possible for anyone to achieve a Parliamentary majority. Reasons for this are plentiful, but the most important is the large number of small parties that are likely to be represented in Parliament. They mean that for the first party to breach 151 MPs, it needs to achieve much more than 35% of the vote. Syriza and ND poll at less that 30% each at the moment. Majority is not likely for anyone.

A coalition government is the logical outcome of the spread of forces this autumn. Because of this, which party comes first is vitally important. The first party gets a bonus of 50 seats which then allows a coalition with one or more of the smaller forces. Who you vote for on September 20 determines which party comes first.

I explained before who I would not vote for. From those remaining, which should be the right choice? The problem with voting for PASOK or Potami is that it empowers potential partners, but partners to whom? If one wants to punish Syriza for its disastrous 8 months in office, is it sensible to allow Tsipras to remain the leader of the first party in Parliament?

I am struggling with the conclusion of these thoughts, as they point to voting for Nea Dimokratia (ND) in the hope that they come first and then strike a deal with Potami (and/or PASOK).

I deeply dislike ND. Karamanlis (PM from 2004-2009) run a populist band of thieves and is largely responsible for Greece’s dismal troubles. Samaras (PM before Tsipras) is a populist nationalist who stuffed the party with despicable fascists and right-wingers like Georgiadis. Yet, I dislike even more the nationalist fascists of ANEL, Mr Tsipras favourite government partner.

In Greece often (some say always) one votes against the worst option, rather than for the best one. In this election I would be willing to vote ND, but I have one condition. I would like its members, especially the prominent ones, to keep their mouths shut. I can pinch my nose and vote for those I despise, but do me a favour and don’t gloat.

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One of many doors leading nowhere, an apt metaphor for Greek politics

@iGlinavos

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15 thoughts on “I can pinch my nose and vote for those I despise, but do me a favour and don’t gloat.

  1. mikenetherlands says:

    Exactly!

    *The goal is to secure Greece’s position in the Eurozone, and crucially in the EU; to allow for normalisation of the economic situation that allows Greece to benefit from the ECB bond buying programme, bring about a relaxation to the liquidity problem and a lifting of capital controls.

    *Greece’s only chance of exiting the crisis is through Europe and cooperation with our creditors.

    There is no alternative. (Don’t listen to far-left faction’s Iskra dreams.)

    Under conditions Nea Dimokratia (ND). And not PASOK, my fear is they will help SYRIZA in a coalition. POTAMI, like I wrote, it is absolute unclear what they want. But I am no Greek citizen.

    BUT I will NEVER vote again SP (Socialist Party Netherlands) because the party is related to SYRYZA. Like iGlinavos I am deeply disappointed in SYRIZA. And I don’t know what bunch of idiots is hidden in that Dutch party.

    Like

  2. Copy of post “Escape from Catch-22” on my blog:
    https://erikdesonville.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/catch-22/

    (Quote)

    With reference to comments on the V. blog…
    iGlinavos> Yani, your stance at this election makes no sense. Why don’t you tell us who you are?
    Dean P.> If Yanis is not running how could you say that his stance on the election makes no sense?

    The core problem with the erratic Messiah (now “on leave” since Danae called him to order) is that he believes it’s possible to be half pregnant. He wants to be “in” the eurozone while at the same time rejecting its underlying fundamental philosophy of disciplin in the common interest.

    The whole dispute with Schäuble is now clarified by a text published 2015-Aug-12, reporting on the meeting Schäuble-Varoufakis-Galbraith on 2015-Jun-08
    The Future of Europe (guest contribution by James Galbraith in Süddeutsche Zeitung)
    http://international.sueddeutsche.de/post/126503493260/the-future-of-europe

    The so-called “Schäuble plan” (vehemently rejected by Varoufakis and Galbraith) is in fact the logic of the core Treaties of the Eurozone (ratified by all members of the eurozone, including Greece), namely:
    * The Stability & Growth Pact (1998/1999)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stability_and_Growth_Pact
    * The European Fiscal Compact (2012)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Fiscal_Compact

    So there is disagreement on the “future” of Europe; do we move forward (flexibly interpreting and fine-tuning the treaties) or back (dumping them altogether)? Note that Varoufakis and Galbraith (son) are professors of economic theory in the anglosaxon sphere of high-tech financial capitalism. Schäuble has many years practical experience as key minister of Europe’s leading economy with a well-documented tradition of “social capitalism”.

    I’m also surprised that Varoufakis and Galbraith, while working on their growth plan, were seemingly unaware of the available in-depth and concrete studies by McKinsey and Roland Berger (see my yesterday’s post).

    Now, what’s done is done. There is a way out from the catch-22. See for instance:
    Stop Dreaming (guest contribution by Michael Hüther in Süddeutsche Zeitung)
    http://international.sueddeutsche.de/post/127800901635/stop-dreaming

    (End quote)

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    • mikenetherlands says:

      Why should we pay attention to Yanis and Dean anymore? Yanis is in a one-way street and predicting the end of the world, and by Dean is everything exploding. The head of Schauble is exploding, now the Greek party’s are exploding. The next time Greece is exploding I suppost.

      Yanis stance on the election makes no sense. Indeed, there is a way out for Greece. Stop talking and talking and choose a competent government. And don’t start a referendum or an election every month.

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        By the way, my advice to Yanis, start a biological vineyard, stop giving interviews, readings etc., shut down that blog, and kick your so called friends out of the door.

        Most of them are profiteers, I know the academic world, at the funeral of my father there where more than 1000 people, police for the traffic, exactly one visited my mother afterwards.
        Believe me, you can have a nice life without all that political nonsens. I think that, as things stand for Yanis, the only sensible thing he can do is to start compleet new and different life.

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      • mike> Why should we pay attention to Yanis and Dean anymore?

        For the fun.

        Or no… one can’t really talk about Greece’s difficulties in terms of “fun”. Let’s say that it is intellectually challenging to think about the issues and about the various opinions of politicians and economists that, undoubtedly, try the best they can to come up with viable approaches to get out of this horrible mess with fifty-plus percent of youth unemployment (not only in Greece… in southern Italy it is just as bad and in Spain nearly so).

        mike> Yanis is in a one-way street and predicting the end of the world

        He is just wrong in subtle ways, by proposing to cure the symptoms with remedies that in the long run aggravate the disease even more. His “Modest Proposal” is neokeynesian Varounomics in disguise (re Varounomics, cfr an earlier post on my blog).

        mike> The head of Schauble is exploding

        I don’t think so. He can take a lot of flak without losing his calm.

        Everybody agrees that Germany is Europe’s strongest economy. Then why don’t we examine how the Germans got there, why don’t we listen to their advice and follow their example, instead of endlessly arguing how wrong, wicked and cruel they are.

        In the private sector, there is a German word for it: Mitbestimmung. Labour and capital working together in a disciplined way to the benefit of all. It is the opposite of the Marxist idea of class warfare. I know it won’t work exactly like that around the Mediterranean because the culture is too different, but it is worth considering.
        https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitbestimmung
        (you can select the English wiki page there if you like)

        In the public sector, the appropriate term is “budgetary orthodoxy”, or “fiscal discipline”, if you like. Don’t promise more to the electorate and above all don’t spend more than what you can sustainably finance one way or another. That is the underlying philosophy to which whole Europe has agreed in the Treaties. (Actually all members have work to do in this area, many governments tend to take their fiscal responsibilities too lightly under popular pressure).

        mike> Indeed, there is a way out for Greece. Stop talking and talking and choose a competent government. And don’t start a referendum or an election every month.

        It is the sovereign right of the Greek people to organise their democracy as they like. We (rest of Europe) just expect that the Greek state, as member of the union, takes its international commitments seriously to the best of its abilities.

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        No, it is no fun. People lose everything they have every day. There work, their house, their future. Sometimes their life, some commit suicide because of the situation. And, together with this economical crisis there is also a human crisis with all that refugees.

        It is impossible to compare Greece/the Greek society with any other country from the eurozone. Business mostly are small and inefficiently. Employers are working many hours for little money. For instance in tourism, employers only get paid in the season and in winter they get very, very little money.

        Employers don’t have much rights, you can be fired every moment. Or don’t get your salary. Or sometimes only a part of the money. Public workers often are incompetent, or not interested. Many times they are not motivated, and there is a lot of bureaucracy.

        The solution? Basically I agree with Yanis. But there is also something like a political reality. And in this political reality the plans of him and his friends didn’t fit. And a 10 year old child could understand that. But they went on and on and on. Till the banks were closed and tens of thousands of businesses will be close. And many people will lose there jobs.
        And I blame them for that. The banks could stay open and they could have a better deal.

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      • Mike, theoretically, at least it felt before i took a closer look, I should/could agree with YV, but that was before I discovered his ressentment politics. Fact is they make me feel uncomfortable and wonder what lies beneath. Or for that matter if the image of a “war cabinett”–or however he called it– has more of a nationalist then an “erratic marxist”, or internationalist origin.

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        After questions of my collages on Wikipedia I described Yanis range of ideas in this way in his article on Wikipedia-NL:

        “Varoufakis heeft voor deze metafoor in de boektitel (The Global Minotaur ) gekozen omdat in zijn visie na de crisis het beleid dat er de oorzaak van was is voortgezet. Het monster moeten nog steeds offers gebracht worden, maar nu in de vorm van enorme bijdragen van de bevolking om te kunnen blijven bestaan. Als oplossing voert hij aan dat de overschotten van de grote industrielanden China, Japan en Duitsland moeten worden geïnvesteerd in landen met een zwakke economie. Hierdoor kunnen deze landen zich verder ontwikkelen waardoor ze niet in te grote schulden geraken. Hij noemt dit het Global Surplus Recycling Mechanism.”

        I will try to make a translation.

        “Varoufakis has chosen this metaphor in the book title (The Global Minotaur), because in his opinion, after the crisis the policies (austerity) was the reason the crisis is continuing .
        The munster (minotaur) still must be sacrificed, but now in the form of tremendous contributions of the population (the tax payers), so it can keeps existing. His solution (Yanis): The surpluses of the major industrialized countries like China, Japan and Germany should be invested in countries with a weak economy. This will give those countries to develop, so they do not get into too much debt. This is called by him the Global Surplus Recycling Mechanism.”

        Replace the weak country’s by Greece and the industrialized country’s by Germany.

        Maybe this is understandable, but again, my English is very, very poor. Sorry.

        Yanis is a very sensible person and forget the strange “salonfähig” vocabulary what seems to be trendy in left-wing Greece.
        I think he is right, Greece will never get out of the crisis without investments and dept relieve. And of course reforms, a bitter pil called by Yanis today.
        But if you want to chance thinks you have to do that with baby-steps, not like like a bull in a china shop likeyanis and his team did. Otherwise everything wil implode or explode. And what was exploding was not the head of Dr Schauble…

        I like the style of Tsakalotos much, much more.

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      • mike> No, it is no fun.

        Agreed. There are no easy solutions.

        In an environment trapped in multiple catch-22’s, merely financial attempts to grow or kick-start the economy (e.g. by investment or by high public expenditure) may create an economic boom at high future cost (as in the period up to 2008), but don’t help in a sustainable way.

        Above all, Greece needs reforms to improve its Index of Economic Freedom (current rank is #130 worldwide)
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_of_Economic_Freedom

        There is evidence for a strong correlation between economic freedom and overall prosperity, see e.g.
        http://www.heritage.org/index/book/chapter-2
        Sections:
        – Advancing opportunity
        – Promoting prosperity
        – Antidote to poverty
        – Upward mobility and social progress

        Greece’s position is pretty low (#130) but it could be worse. The lowest-ranking are Eritrea (#174), Zimbabwe (#175), Cuba (#177) and North-Korea (#178). Not exactly known as wealthy places, not even with “patron” (former Soviet or China) support. Also Venezuela (#176) ranks very low, but at least there’s oil.

        Now M3 gives plenty of opportunity to do structural reforms towards economic freedom, with European financial support as things advance.

        I read in the media that Alexis is nearly giving up the 18-to-44 generation. If he wants to be a leader, he’d better find a realistic and positive message for them. The “ochi” opposition message, blaming it all on the old political culture, on capitalism and on Europe, is not a good one. Maybe good enough to win an election, but not good enough for governing.

        I read in the media that Yanis is still undecided and yet he’s giving advice to vote for parties opposing M3.

        EITHER he understands nothing of international relations (between nations)
        OR he fools his own people and mocks the rest of us.

        He can’t be half-virgin. He personally didn’t sign on the dotted line, but his country did. His PM signed as the legal representative and a parliamentary majority approved. Now “pacta sunt servanda”. His country better sticks to it and makes the best of it, in its own interest. That is what the union partners expect (and at least Euclid understands).

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        Let’s have a closer look at the words of our friend Dijsselbloem, told CNBC on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Ankara, Turkey.

        Dijsselbloem. “I think that’s the key issue…trust, consumers, producers, investors trust that’s key,”

        *Trust. There is a a deep distrust from both sites. (not so interesting)
        *Consumption. Fun! You increase the VAT, you reduced the pensions, and you reform the public sector in a way many public workers lose their job. And expected consumption. Consumption of what?
        *Production. Production of what? There is no industry, there is no trade, tourism is only 20% of the GNP.
        *Investments. How for the hell wants to invest in a country what is in a deep depression? And were are more than 250,000 unsold Properties and were the real estate prices are faling like the leaves in the autumn? Were ten thousands of firms will be bankrupt in the next months?

        And this is the solution/key issue of our chairman of the euro group. Complete nonsens!

        The problem is, if you restructure the public sector, many people will lose their jobs. That is fine, in the eys of a liberal, but… there are no other jobs for this people. Result, a deeper depression.

        I think you are right, it is catch-22 and there are no easy solutions. But I don’t think that more economic freedom in a country in a deep recession is the solution.

        Yanis theory is that the euro is like the song Hotel California, You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave. Again, I think he right. The greeks will never accept one drachme.
        But a country with IOU’s? And no bail-outs? I don’t know. I don’t think it is a solution.

        Both solutions are imperfect. (understatement). But I prefer the bail-out road, not the IOU road.

        On the other hand, Yanis had at least a plan for Greece, the euro group doesn’t have (if I am reading the words of Dijsselbloem correct).

        Remarkable that we here are talking about economics, Yanis theory’s, Greece, in a normal way and that Yanis his blog is kind of a you-tube channel were everything implode or explode. Very special.

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      • mikenetherlands says:

        I know. But the question of that referendum had to be: Do you want “system Yanis’ (a kind of Kosovo option) or do yo want the bail-out option. And not a snap election like we have now!

        Like

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