The sudden closure of the Greek public broadcaster ERT has shattered the cohesion of the coalition government, with some political observers saying it could force early elections in the debt-ridden nation. EURACTIV Greece reports.
Struggling to meet the demands of international lenders to slash public-sector jobs, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced on Tuesday (11 June) the closure of ERT, a decision taken under a ministerial decree that does not require the approval of the Greek parliament.
The junior partners in the year-old coalition government, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and Democratic Left, protested this decision.
Samaras’ centre-right New Democracy party argues that the closure of the state broadcaster is “temporary” and needs to be rebuilt in order for it to be effective and financially viable.
Simos Kedikoglou, a government official, said that there was no question about the cohesion of the coalition government.
“We might have a different approach, but our objective is common. We believe that during the consultations we will find a mutually acceptable position,” he said, noting that the leaders of the three parties will discuss the future of ERT on Monday.
“The three coalition partners have been through difficulties. Nevertheless, we always manage to find common ground for our common goals,” Kedikoglou added, repeating that the closure of ERT is “temporary”.
“When one is obliged to rebuild a new company from the very beginning, he has to shut it down first.”
Nevertheless, the Democratic Left opposes the closure. It argues that whatever changes are made should be made without shutting down public television.
Syriza: Their days are numbered
Alexis Tsipras , who heads the opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), said the government’s “days are numbered.”
“A public broadcaster is shut either when we have an intervention of foreign powers or if there is a coup d'état,” Tsipras said, whose party staged a surprise second-place showing in elections held on 17 June 2012.
Greek Socialist MEP Spyros Danellis told EURACTIV Greece that the closure of ERT is an “authoritarian move” by the Greek prime minister, who didn’t take into account the disagreement of the other two coalition partners.
He noted that Pasok and Democratic Left were “trapped” in the coalition government. The Greek MEP also said Samara’s sudden move might be interpreted as an “indication of early elections”.
A new round of elections could shake investor confidence in a country that has stabilised in the past year.