The leader of the Socialist PASOK party, Evangelos Venizelos also failed his bid to form a government in Greece, since the moderate Democratic Left party said it wouldn’t join the two pro-bailout parties of PASOK and New Democracy without the radical left Syriza party. The Greek president has called in the four main parties to try to form an emergency government and avoid new elections. But the Syriza party wouldn’t attend this meeting, saying that they cannot back any coalition which supports austerity. Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels to discuss the Greek crisis later today. The EU fears a new election in Greece because it is probable to back the anti-austerity parties even more, and with the EU unwilling the renegotiate the deal of austerity for bailouts, Greece is becoming very likely to leave the eurozone.
In the large German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party suffered a great set-back in elections yesterday. The CDU party’s loss was much greater than expected, declining form 35% to about 26%. Despite Merkel’s great popularity in Germany, some commentators view that she is weakened by a string of losses in state-elections the past few years, and that the next national election in 2013 will not be an easy win.
It seems the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble eyes a chance to lead the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers when current head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker’s term finishes in June. Schäuble syas that “as the German finance minister, I must fully commit myself, one way or another”. As mentioned above, the Eurogroup will meet later today to discuss the critical situation in Greece.
Spain’s ‘indignants’ (Indignados) are demonstrating all over the country these days in protest of economic injustice and to mark the first birthday of the grassroots movement which inspired “Occupy” protests in the US and around the world. Tens of thousands of people have joined the four-day protest, starting Saturday and ending tomorrow, May 15, the birthday of the movement. The indignants say that not much has changed for the better since they started protesting a year ago, and they feel they have even more to protest against now, due to huge unemployment rates and austerity cuts.
On May 31 the Irish will vote in a referendum on the EU fiscal treaty. The coalition government and the main opposition party are both for a ‘Yes’, calling it the ‘Stability Treaty’. There is also a large group of ‘No’ voters in the opposition, however; they call it the ‘Austerity Treaty’. It is difficult to say what the outcome will be of the referendum, especially because so many voters in Ireland are confused by it. The ‘stability’ is welcomed since Ireland has suffered greatly from the financial crisis, but the ‘austerity’ is feared since they have already been through much of this in order to receive bailouts from the IMF and the ECB.