Coalition overcomes concerns about “small DEH”
The new cabinet emerged unscathed unscathed last week from the first test of its cohesion, which was brought about by disquiet concerning the privatisation of 30% of the state-run Public Power Corporation (PPC/DEH) in the form of a smaller spin-off.
Adopting the so-called “small PPC law” is one of the six prior actions Athens should have completed by the end of the month to receive the first 1 bln euro sub-tranche of its eurozone bailout. It is one of the 12 tasks Greece needs to fulfil this summer.
However, there were rumblings of discontent within the government, particularly from PASOK MPs from constituencies that host PPC units. The junior coalition partner did not threaten to derail the bill but asked for certain adjustments to be made instead. A compromise appears to have been found. The draft legislation is expected to contain stipulations that any investor would have to retain the current PPC staff for a minimum of five years and that local workers would be given priority when new positions become available.
This seems to have smoothed things over within the coalition, helping to overcome disagreements. It is no coincidence that the drafting of the potentially contentious bill was delayed until Parliament’s summer sessions (when 100 rather than 300 MPs sit) had begun. It is easier for the government to pass legislation during the summer, when there are fewer MPs to keep in line and media attention on political issues wanes.
Germany’s EON and RWE,
Italy’s Edison and France’s EDF are thought to be among those interested in the small PPC.
The opposition parties have said they will oppose the draft law and PPC workers’ unions are threatening to go on strike. SYRIZA went as far as to say that it would renationalise the part of the power company that is due to be sold off.