Coalition partners pressure for Greek broadcaster ERT

Coalition partners pressure for Greek broadcaster ERT

ATHENS - Reuters
Coalition partners pressure for Greek broadcaster ERT

ERT’s workforce has occupied the broadcasting company’s headquarters in protest against the government’s decision to close it. AA photo

Both junior partners in Greece’s ruling coalition have turned down a compromise by the Greek prime minister over the shutdown of the public broadcaster ERT, raising the prospect that the rift among the parties might be impossible to mend.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras offered to rehire a smaller number of staff to resume news broadcasts, in response to an outcry over the abrupt closure of ERT to save money under the terms of Greece’s international bailout.

But his concession did not satisfy the left-wing parties in the fragile coalition, the Socialist PASOK and the Democratic Left, who are demanding the immediate reopening of ERT’s television and radio stations.

The failure to reach a compromise so far has led to speculation about an early election, which would almost certainly derail Greece’s bailout programme.

The three coalition partners are due to meet on this evening in an effort to find a way out of the impasse.

While Greeks have little affection for the 75-year-old ERT, viewing it as a wasteful source of patronage jobs for political parties, the suddenness of the decision was a shock. Unions and the opposition have branded it a “coup-like move.”

TV closure or election?

Around 64 percent of Greeks are against the ERT shutdown, a latest Kapa Research poll published in Sunday’s To Vima newspaper found. Another poll by Metron Analysis for the Ependytis newspaper found that 68 percent oppose the closure.

“Early elections would wipe out the sacrifices of Greek society and the struggles of the market in order to satisfy political egos,” Vassilis Korkidis, head of the ESEE retail federation, wrote on Twitter.

Screens went black on June 11 night just hours after the government’s spokesman, himself a former state TV journalist, announced the move.