If this final result holds until Monday morning, June 18 (Greek time), then the following facts are on the table:

1. ND attempts to form a government with Pasok, whose "firm" third place would presumably allow the "bean counters" to find a workable formula to launch a ND-Pasok government.

2. The ND-Pasok combination may be further reinforced by the Syriza splinter party of the Democratic Left (DIMAR) which appears to win some 17 seats.

3. Syriza emerges as strong main opposition, with the political capability to de-legitimatize any coalition with which it does not agree; a Samaras-led coalition, therefore, will need to devise an astute strategy to "flank" Syriza, which may be easier said than done since ND is associated intrinsically with a "pro-memorandum" posture.

4. It is most unlikely that Syriza could be convinced to pursue consensus with a Samaras-led coalition now that, after a second election in six weeks, it is again clear that the troika's proposition of national suicide by austerity is rejected by the majority of the Greek electorate (pundits underline that a good portion of those who voted for ND emerges from the desire to block Syriza's way to power rather than endorse ND's pro-memorandum positions unconditionally).

5. Efforts to form a government will, by necessity, go through the motions of successive calls upon the parties by President Papoulias to try and bring together a coalition -- each in its own turn according to the order established by the final electoral tally; if these efforts fail (as they did after May 6) Papoulias will have no option other than calling together all party leaders for a last try.

6. If this ultimate effort fails, Greece will need to go to a third general election.

ND's narrow "victory" on June 17 almost certainly won't deliver what Berlin and other EU capitals desire deeply: an administration dedicated to Frau Merkel's austerity policies of deep cuts that have already imploded the Greek economy and are unraveling Greek society.

Even if a Samaras administration comes into play, the conservative leader will have an extremely narrow latitude of action, which cannot include more income pressures and the dismantling of what is left of Greece's social welfare system. Any such attempt will cut the administration's life short by means of vehement opposition in parliament and the threat of burgeoning violence in the streets. Samaras, who campaigned forcefully in favor of not rejecting the "bailout" that has collapsed Greece, did not see any real profit from what his opponents consistently labeled "scaremongering;" Syriza's strength simply increased despite the dire warnings.

At first glance, therefore, June 17 did not really resolve anything. We will have to wait for at least a week to see how the negotiations to form a government develop. But the act of forming a government itself will still leave the question of what to do with "bailout" wide open -- and it won't change the established profile of ND as a morally bankrupt "mainstream" party that possesses no real legitimacy as either a "reformer" or a "savior" of a country where hope is dying fast.

Tassos Symeonides


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