GREECE: If you want to know whether the latest election makes any difference at all, then read this S&P verdict.

This is what I got from Standard & Poors last night. It isn’t privileged or secret or a leak or anything other than their standard round-robin email to subscribers. But if you are blessed with common sense, it is highly significant:

‘LONDON (Standard & Poor’s) June 18, 2012–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that its sovereign credit ratings and outlook on the Hellenic Republic (Greece; CCC/Stable/C) are not affected by the outcome of yesterday’s general elections.

Provisional results indicate that the centre-right New Democracy (ND) party won about 30% of votes, followed by the left Syriza coalition with about 27%, and centre-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party with about 12%. The parties are now negotiating the formation of a coalition government to achieve the parliamentary majority needed to govern.

In our view, a common goal of the parties most likely to form a viable coalition will be to modify Greece’s current program of external financial support (the program) from the “troika”–the International Monetary Fund, members of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU or eurozone), and the European Central Bank. We expect the government (likely led by the ND) will attempt to renegotiate program terms with the troika. However, the willingness of the latter to concede further easing of the program conditions is, in our view, constrained by opposition from several eurozone members.

If the new government can comply with the program conditions, thereby implementing the economic reform agenda, we would expect official financial assistance to continue. However, if the political parties are unable to form a viable coalition, likely leading to another round of general elections in July, or if official creditors, especially eurozone members, are unwilling to renegotiate the conditions of the program, we think disbursements to Greece would likely be suspended. This would lead quickly to Greece defaulting on its sovereign debt.

A failure by Greece to comply with a renegotiated program would also likely trigger a suspension of payments. We also think that if a coalition is formed, the coalition’s political resolve will be challenged by trade unions and other affected constituencies.

While we believe the short-term risk of Greece leaving the eurozone may have lessened, we maintain our view that there remains at least a one-in-three chance of its exit in the medium-to-long term.’

As I posted last Sunday, a Coalition of the Left against the bailout programme was never on the cards, but none of the serious runners in this election had the slightest intention of leaving the euro. It was merely spun by Berlin-am-Brussels this way to scare the older voter…who, it transpires, turned out in force to back New Democracy.

This is indeed a new form of democracy. For myself, I prefer the older one, where foreigners interfering in sovereign elections are told to mind their manners. But that’s just dotty, old-fashioned little me.