Greek Strikes on Eve of Critical Vote; Expect Violence

In spite of all the huffing and puffing and bluffing, once again the Greek puppets will likely dance to the strings of the Troika and pass austerity measures required for Greece to get the next tranche of money.

Unions, lawyers, pensioners, and workers in general are not pleased with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and have planned a major series of strikes.

I expect violence if Samaras musters the votes to pass the bills. There is likely to be violence before the vote as well.

Please consider Greeks Plan Strikes On Eve of Votes
On Monday, public-transit workers, taxi owners and journalists around the Greek capital walked off the job in protest of the €13.5 billion ($17.3 billion) austerity and reform package to be voted on Wednesday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, all public-sector services are expected to be frozen in a 48-hour general strike called by the country's two umbrella unions—private sector GSEE and public sector Adedy—bringing chaos to the Greek capital.

They are to be joined by lawyers, engineers, hospital staff, power workers, telecommunications workers, dentists, local government employees, bank personnel, teachers, dock workers, air-traffic controllers and radio technicians—who are planning either all-day walkouts, or shorter work stoppages.

Most analysts say the government is expected to narrowly carry the austerity vote Wednesday, as well as the 2013 budget vote on Sunday.

On Monday, Greece submitted to Parliament a draft bill cutting public servants' salaries and pensions, and increasing the retirement age as part of the austerity plan being demanded by international creditors.

Pensions would be cut by up to 15%, depending on income levels, retirement bonuses for public-sector employees would be slashed by up to 83% and the retirement age would be raised to 67 from 65 years old. Other changes include dropping Christmas and Easter bonuses paid to public-sector employees, deregulating sectors such as taxis, and introducing labor reforms.

The problem, however, is Greece's increasingly wobbly coalition, which remains riven by internal dissent. The three parties that make up the coalition—the conservative New Democracy, the Socialist Pasok and small Democratic Left—nominally control 176 seats in Greece's 300-member Parliament. But the Democratic Left has said it would abstain from the vote Wednesday because of a dispute over the labor reforms, while there are signs that a handful of Pasok lawmakers may break with the party ranks and not back the austerity program.

As a result, Wednesday's vote could squeak by with only a wafer-thin majority of three to six votes, say analysts, raising questions about the long-term cohesion of the coalition, formed in June after closely fought national elections left no party with an absolute majority in Parliament. A collapse of the coalition could lead to fresh elections and give the opposition, radical-left Syriza party—which opposes the terms of Greece's €173 billion bailout—a chance to grab power. 
One curious aspect of this vote is everyone seem to think it will pass (even if by a slim margin). In votes for prior austerity measures, there appeared to be more doubt than now.

If there is massive violence ahead of the vote, then perhaps it does not pass.

The journal notes "If elections were held today, only 20% of Greeks respondents said they would vote for New Democracy—down from 29.7% in June—while Pasok saw its support cut almost in half to 6.5%, and Democratic Left by a third to just 4% and Syriza would garner 23% support, down from 26.9% in June."

Those percentages total only 53.5%. If all of those parties are losing votes then where are the votes going? Here's the depressing answer: the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock


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