Athens Digest 25.03.2019

• House protection on the table at today’s EWG but deal not expected

• Poll gives conservatives solid lead over SYRIZA ahead of Euro elections

• SYRIZA MEP candidate drops out of race after 2017 fraud conviction revealed

# The status of talks on new household insolvency rules will be discussed at today’s Euroworking group after Friday’s teleconference between Greek officials and the institutions failed to yield an agreement. The new protection rules are among the main outstanding issues before the Eurogroup can sign off on debt relief measures to the tune of EUR 974 billion. According to reports, an agreement today is unlikely ahead of the April 5 Eurogroup. The institutions insist the legal framework proposed by Athens contravenes existing articles of its predecessor- the Katseli law – and bankruptcy legislation. As such it won’t improve Greece’s payment culture or reduce bank NPLs. Even though it is not faced with a liquidity issue, Athens is in a race against time to secure the disbursal of the money which could be used to pay off IMF loans. Despite leaks last week, the government has, so far, refrained from unilaterally submitting a draft law to Parliament.

# Ahead of European Parliament elections in May, opposition New Democracy (ND) has a 9.2 point lead over ruling SYRIZA, according to a recent poll by ‘Metron Analysis’. More specifically, the survey published in Sunday’s To Vima newspaper, showed that 27.1-percent said they would vote for the conservatives against 17.9-percent for the leftist party. The centrist KINAL alliance received 5.8-percent ahead of the extreme right Golden Dawn party with 5.3-percent and Communist KKE on 4.8-percent. With regard to general elections, the same poll gave ND a double-digit lead over the governing party wit 36.8-percent against 26-percent in a five-party Parliament. Golden Dawn was in third with 7.5-percent, ahead of KINAL (7.4-percent) and KKE (6.2-percent).

# A political storm erupted last Friday after the revelation that a SYRIZA MEP candidate had been convicted of fraud against the state in 2017 prompting her to pull out of the race. Myrsini Loizou – the daughter of one of the most influential Greek Cypriot songwriters of the 20th century Manos Loizos- announced her decision after the public outcry sparked by news reports that she received a  two-year suspended sentence in February 2017 for receiving the pension of her deceased mother for more than five years.

On Our Radar: Schaeuble says he was close to resigning over Greece in 2015
Former German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble revealed last week that he was close to resigning at the height of the Greek crisis in 2015 after his proposal for a 10-year Grexit had been rejected. In an interview to the Financial Times, the Bundestag President said that when his idea for a Greek “timeout” was nixed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders, “that was one of the instances where we were very close [to my stepping down].” Greece, he said, should never have been admitted to the euro club in the first place.