Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta will be in Athens for talks with Greek premier Antonis Samaras today with (whisper it) the prospect of the euro zone enjoying its first summer lull for years, in fact all the way up to German elections on Sept. 22.
No major decisions are likely before that point and who knows what will come afterwards, though continuity is a better bet than a radical shift.
The latest poll at the weekend showed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition lost its lead over the three main opposition parties. Merkel’s conservatives held steady at 40 percent but her junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, lost one point to 5 percent while support for the main opposition parties remained steady.
It is almost a given that Merkel will still be Chancellor come the autumn, not least because the centre-left SPD will not countenance a coalition with the far left, which commands eight percent of the vote. The crucial question is whether Merkel has to govern with the SPD or not in a grand coalition that could require some policy massaging.
For the euro zone’s major flashpoints – Portugal and Greece – things have calmed a little, for a while at least.
After a messy, self-inflicted political crisis, Portugal’s reshuffled coalition has formally stuck with the measures required by the EU and IMF in return for rescue loans and Greece has adopted the last piece of legislation needed to free the next tranche of its bailout loans today.