Surprise! Greece’s Ruling Poilitical Parties Have a Combined $300 Million Debt

Here’s a terrifying set of facts about Greece we didn’t know but don’t find too surprising: Government funding for political parties is tied to the percentage of votes they win; it’s not unusual for political parties to borrow against future funding; and as Reuters explains, the two groups that form the current governing coalition are in debt to the tune of $300 million:

The loan pressures will intensify early next year when state funding is recalculated to reflect declines in the parties’ support. At present, funding is still based on the proportion of votes each party won in the June 2009 election. But in January funding will change to reflect votes cast in June 2012.

At that election Pasok saw its share of the vote plunge from 43 percent to 12 percent, while New Democracy’s share fell from 33 percent to 29 percent. The big winner was leftist Syriza, which opposed the bailout terms. Its share of the vote shot up to 27 percent from 4.6 percent in 2009, and it now stands to receive significantly more funding.

Which is funny in a black humor kind of way, because the two parties—conservative New Democracy and socialist Pasok—just reached a deal on $17 billion worth of spending cuts and revenue (tax) measures in hope of a) satisfying European rescuers and b) pissing Greek citizens off? So maybe not in hopes of, but nonetheless: We’re not talking about demonstrators armed with sandwich boards and singalongs, but uh, gas masks and Molotov cocktails.

So: Support for the coalition parties has plummeted,  and they’re set to receive less state money when funding formulas are recalculated to include June elections, making the parties a) poorer and b) debtors with their own special interests, even as they engage in restructuring the nation’s debts.

Surprise! Greece’s Ruling Poilitical Parties Have a Combined $300 Million Debt