Tag Archives: Greece reshuffle

Battle-hardened Venizelos faces defining moment

It’s a feature of politics at its Machiavellian best that even the worst of enemies can end up relying on each other for survival. So it was on Thursday, when Prime Minister George Papandreou called on his one-time bitter rival Evangelos Venizelos to take on the mammoth task of steering Greece through the economic crisis. Venizelos has craved influence and attention for years but as Greece’s finance minister at this particular juncture, he may find that getting what he wished for wasn’t worth the wait.

The Thessaloniki MP and former defense minister should be aware of the dangers of being thrust into the spotlight when the timing is not quite right. His recent political career has been defined by a moment of political opportunism that went badly wrong. Following a disastrous showing for PASOK in the general election on September 16, 2007, Venizelos attempted to usurp Papandreou as the party’s leader. Even before the final results were in, he headed to Zappeio Hall in central Athens, where the PASOK chief had minutes earlier conceded defeat, to announce he was launching a leadership challenge.

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How Greece could go from solidarity to division

Solidarity is probably a word that you would not associate with Greece following the events of the past few days. Love and understanding were in short supply on the streets around Parliament, where protesters and police clashed this week, as well as within the walls of the prominent sand-colored building, where Greece’s politicians failed to strike a deal to form a government of national unity to oversee the latest austerity measures the country has to adopt to qualify for more loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

However, solidarity is a very relevant word in terms of Greece’s plight 13 months after the EU and the IMF agreed to bail it out with 110 billion euros ($157 billion) in loans. Firstly, it’s a word that’s on people’s minds because the government said it is introducing a “solidarity tax” that will lead to crisis-fatigued Greeks having between 1 percent and 4 percent of their incomes kept aside to help pay benefits for the rapidly growing number of unemployed.

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