Daily Update

 

24-05-2019 | EYE ON GREECE 

Friday, May 24 2019

7-percentage point lead for ND over SYRIZA in Thurs. poll – elex on Sun.

Opinion polls are being released two-by-two this week in the run-up to Sunday’s European Parliament election in Greece, with poll-leading New Democracy (ND) pointing to a referendum on the Tsipras government’s continued mandate, but with the latter engaging in a “volte-face” from its position in 2014 – when it came in first in the Europarliament poll and then vociferously demanded snap elections.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1479316/7-percentage-point-lead-for-nd-over-syriza-in-thurs-poll-elex-on-sun

Tsipras promises a 50€ hike in monthly pension rates for all, but in 2020, after general election

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday evening pointed to an increase of 50 euros next year – a period after general elections must be held – in a latest pre-election pledge ahead of Sunday’ s European Parliament election.

https://www.naftemporiki.gr/story/1479329/tsipras-promises-a-50-hike-in-monthly-pension-rates-for-all-but-in-2020-after-general-election

Parliament appealed to ELAS twice before anarchist attack, documents show

Two classified documents sent by Parliament’s security service to the leadership of the Greek Police (ELAS) last week, and seen by Kathimerini, appealed for improved policing outside the House, which was targeted by anarchist vandals who threw bottles of red paint at its facade on Tuesday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/240777/article/ekathimerini/news/parliament-appealed-to-elas-twice-before-anarchist-attack-documents-show

Ex-PM Samaras says Merkel had proposed temporary Grexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had proposed a temporary Greek exit from the eurozone during a meeting with conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in August 2012, the ex-PM told Skai in an interview aired on Thursday night as part of the channel’s series “Greek Bankruptcy.”

http://www.ekathimerini.com/240825/article/ekathimerini/news/ex-pm-samaras-says-merkel-had-proposed-temporary-grexit

Koufodinas ends hunger strike

Convicted terrorist Dimitris Koufodinas has ended his hunger strike after the penal section of the Supreme Court accepted an appeal filed by the court’s top prosecutor against the rejection of his leave earlier Thursday.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/240829/article/ekathimerini/news/koufodinas-ends-hunger-strike

EU court rejects investor calls for PSI compensation

The General Court of the European Union said on Thursday that the European Central Bank does not have to compensate private holders of Greece’s sovereign debt who were forced to take losses during the country’s 2012 international bailout.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/240812/article/ekathimerini/business/eu-court-rejects-investor-calls-for-psi-compensation

ATHEX: Stock decline continues at Athens bourse

The 390-million-euro sale of a National Bank stake in NBG Pangaea to Invel dominated Thursday’s bourse session, which saw the majority of stocks end lower.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/240832/article/ekathimerini/business/athex-stock-decline-continues-at-athens-bourse


www.enikos.gr

www.protothema.gr

www.newsbomb.gr

www.cnn.gr

www.newsbeast.gr

KATHIMERINI:  Clear lead for New Democracy

ETHNOS:  Indifference + abstention = Extreme-Right

TA NEA:  The next-day: 2+1 scenarios

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON:  Optimism for SYRIZA, bad mood for New Democracy

AVGI:  SYRIZA makes call for victory: Tonight at Syntagma square and on Sunday at the ballot

RIZOSPASTIS:  Battle to the last moment for a powerful Communist Party everywhere!

KONTRA NEWS:  Greece will not return to the Memorandum-era

DIMOKRATIA:  Polls: what will be the distance between SYRIZA and New Democracy be?

NAFTEMPORIKI:  The road from 12 to 120 installments

hk-strategies.gr

HERE WE GO — THE EU ELECTION IS HAPPENING! “I’ve voted for the first time ever, for myself — I’ve never done so before,” said Frans Timmermans after he cast his ballot early Thursday in his hometown of Heerlen, as if such decision needed an excuse. His Labor Party (PvdA) needed every vote, or so he thought — and made an impressive comeback to win the EU election, from 5.7 percent in the 2017 national election to more than 18 percent now, according to an Ipsos exit poll.

Biggest loser: Geert Wilders from the far-right PVV, which appears to have lost three of its four seats.

Also dissatisfied: The liberal battle horses, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Dutch list leader Sophie In’t Veld, would certainly have preferred to come out stronger. “The Labor Party has delivered an unbelievably good performance tonight,” Rutte said. His own party, the VVD, which looks set to pick up an extra seat for a total of four, made “considerable progress,” Rutte said, adding: “It’s a fine result, but of course one would have preferred to be the biggest party.”

It’s all in flux in that most beautiful exercise called free, fair and equal elections. Eline Schaart has the latest from the Netherlands.

Who needs foes, with friends like these? Timmermans is under attack in Romania — and the weapon of choice is folklore. The secretary general of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic party (PSD), Codrin Ștefănescu, posted a video of two children wearing traditional dress and performing a song that calls on people to vote for his party in Sunday’s European Parliament election …

… while taking a stab at his own candidate for Commission president. “Green pumpkin leaf, I don’t want Timmermans, because he’s a biased man from the land of tulips,” sing the children, repeating a lyrical refrain (which rhymes in Romanian). Ștefănescu wrote a comment on the video: “Superb song! We didn’t order this! People are singing from the heart! In the entire country.” Check out the spontaneous-from-the-heart stuff for yourself. Anca Gurzu has the story.

GOOD MORNING. On Thursday, the Netherlands and the U.K. went to the polls for the first day of voting in the European parliamentary election. Today, Ireland and the Czech Republic follow. What’s this election all about? Here’s a Playbook truism for once: The answer really does differ from country to country. Let’s go on a tour d’Europe today together, and look deeper into some national political realities — the success of one Spitzenkandidat in his own country being one thing to keep in mind.

Don’t forget: You’ll have Playbook mail Saturday and Sunday too, though a couple of hours later than usual. Get some sleep this weekend and listen to some music, at Brussels’ Jazz Weekend for example. Sunday will be a long election night, with POLITICO’s traditional election live blog from the European Parliament and national capitals up and running from about 11 a.m. Brussels time.

OUT AND ABOUT THE EU

In Greece and Poland, this election will be a mood tester for national elections this fall. So too in Denmark, which will elect a new parliament next week. In Madrid, the ballot will provide a preview of what’s to come in wider Spanish politics, as Diego Torres reports.

In Belgium, where voters have a mammoth election Sunday, casting ballots for everything except the communes, it’s all about who’s going to be the new prime minister, with some surprises potentially in store. POLITICO’s in-house Belgian dream-team has a good primer with the seven things you need to watch for.

In Germany, the latest (real-world) excitement in the campaign was about the one policy area the EU has nothing to say about: pensions. But it’s also about the chances of the “grand” coalition surviving the (double) beating the SPD expects to receive, and of course about the Austrian nationalists’ disgrace, which is as heated a debate in Germany. (Austria’s big neighbor feels obliged to help out by doling out lectures on press freedom, democracy in general, and even Austrian history.)

Meanwhile, in Malta, the controversial debate on the country’s stringent abortion laws has shifted from Facebook forums to the highest levels of politics just in time for the European election, reports Jillian Deutsch.

In short, national governments are facing scrutiny in this European election — and rightly so, seeing as they’ve got a huge say in European affairs. The question to ask after Sunday is rather whether they’ll assume their fair share of the responsibility for the results.

And yet, this election is about Europe, as the real impact of the far right on the next European Parliament will be forcing constructive forces to work closer together. That means every vote in committees and the plenary in the next Parliament will count even more than in this one when it comes to shaping policies. Consider the narrow margins on the copyright directive, on trade issues, or the many instances where the balance between security and freedom was established.

And it’s also about what was promised by some current and future groups in Parliament (the two biggest, plus one potential king-maker included): to give voters something of a say on the incoming Commission president. They may or may not keep that promise — but be sure the abstentionist camp will have even less impact.

FURTHER READING: The 12 people who ruined the European Parliament election, by Ryan Heath.

WHICH MEPs WILL BE REELECTED? Two hundred and eighty-three MEPs are voluntarily retiring, and voters may force out a couple hundred more this weekend. Our team of reporters analyzed party candidate lists and compared them to POLITICO’s poll of polls to make a conservative estimate of which current MEPs are likely to be reelected. We count 78 who unlikely to be reelected, and a further 135 who are at risk of losing their seats. That leaves 247 MEPs we consider very likely to be reelected — just one in three. See our rating for all current MEPs here.

IN BRITAIN, IT’S ALL ABOUT MAY

THE END IS NIGH: Theresa May’s prime ministership may have been on the brink for nearly two years, but even those closest to her now accept her time is up. Her last-ditch offer to Labour MPs this week met a disastrous reaction both from the opposition and from within her own party. The expectation is that the result of the European election in the U.K. will do the rest.

Brace for disaster: May’s Conservatives are expecting carnage, Charlie Cooper reports. So, some limited moves within May’s limited space: The government formally pulled a planned a vote on her “new” Brexit deal, which had been scheduled for the first week of June — to spare May another defeat.

Expect an announcement on her departure as early as today. How it’s likely to go down: May will resign as party leader, which might give her a chance to conclude her reign on a high note — with the planned visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to the U.K. in the first week of June. “She is looking forward to welcoming the president,” a May spokesman said.

Any Tory disaster or projected big-time win for the Brexit Party are not substitutes for a decision about what type of Brexit the U.K. actually wants, let alone a second referendum, Annabelle Dickson writes.

COME ON: Not even the basics appeared to work in the U.K., with EU citizens claiming they were denied their chance to vote in the European election on Thursday. Axel Antoni, spokesperson for The3Million campaign group that represents EU citizens living in the U.K., said they’d received dozens of reports from people who said they had been turned away from the ballot despite making efforts to register on time. “They have turned up at the polling stations being told they could not vote, they should have voted in their home countries, which is a bit offensive in a way, seeing as most EU citizens [here] consider the U.K. to be their home,” Antoni said.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson blamed Downing Street, saying: “The very short notice from the government of the U.K.’s participation in these elections impacted on the time available for awareness of this process amongst citizens, and for citizens to complete the process.”

Bottom line: French President Emmanuel Macron’s objection to long Brexit extensions might win more friends next time the European Council needs to address the issue. (Unless the new British prime minister puts an end to the extensionism and goes for a no-deal Brexit.)

A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP: Have you ever dreamed of Mrs. May, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was asked by German Bild newspaper in an interview in today’s edition (also available in English). “No,” he answered. Of Brexit? “No … but those who don’t sleep well should stay away from politics.”

MACRONISTAS!

FORGET MOUNT OLYMPUS. The French president has gone deep into the trenches this election campaign, which has been as much about his half-term report card as it was about truly EU affairs. That’s not a contradiction for Macron, who built his bid for the French presidency on the concept of modern sovereignty not being a national, but a European affair. Some backtracking on that was apparently necessary.

Macron is fighting until the very last moment, and he’s using if not the weapons, then the arguments of his eternal challenger Marine Le Pen, who’s set to dethrone him as the winner of the election, according to the latest projections.

Exhibit A: Macron’s latest attempt for people see him as the defender of French interests was his Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume saying Thursday that “France will not ratify” a trade deal with South American Mercosur countries, assuring voters things are in good hands: “The president of the republic has already spoken to President Juncker.”

The reaction followed comments by EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström on Wednesday, who said the Commission “would very much like to have an agreement” with the Mercosur bloc before the end of its term in October (links for POLITICO Pro Trade subscribers). But it appeared the person who really triggered the reaction was not Malmström, but rather Jordan Bardella, the lead candidate of Le Pen’s far-right National Rally, who wrote on Twitter: “Feeling the wind of democracy coming, the Commission at the end of its reign is rushing to conclude with Mercosur the biggest free trade agreement ever signed by the EU. The consequences would be serious, especially for our farmers.”

Exhibit B: Nathalie Loiseau, head of Macron’s Renaissance list, boasted about personally having stopped the launch of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania the other day. That certainly supported Macron’s ideal of an EU made up of the lucky few, but at the same time jeopardized the one achievement of EU foreign policy during the past five years — the name deal between Greece and Northern Macedonia.

Will all that, plus climate action, do the trick? Rym Momtaz takes a look.

Side note: The European Court of Justice ruled Thursday that Marine Le Pen has to repay the European Parliament almost €300,000 in misused funds.

MACRON FANBOYS: Brussels bubble inhabitants ♥️ Macron. He vowed to free them from elected MEPs’ ambition of having a say on the next Commission president and, at the same time, a think tanker’s worst nightmare: another president who won’t listen to their well-meant advice and will instead push through his or her own program. Here’s some opining by Mujtaba Rahman, from Eurasia Group, for POLITICO, as a case in point.