Is Greece about to face the music or can a new government get Brussels to change its tune? The last four years have seen the nation lurch from one political crisis to another as its economic crisis grinds on. Despite EU and IMF financial support the average Greek does not feel saved. Instead people are angry, and parliament seems incapable of acting to help the poorest in society, whose numbers are growing.
Now there is a new period of uncertainty, and a snap general election, but the poll frontrunner, the leftist anti-austerity Syriza has won nothing, yet.
And most Greeks know it. Between those who expect nothing and those who are worried there are those at the end of their tethers. there seems little enthusiasm for an election, if these public reactions are anything to go by:
“I believe the elections will make us go through another difficult period without having any result because no party will be able to govern on its own”
“I am worried because I have no idea what will happen.”
Some, however, seem to be thirsting for a scrap.
“The country will finally get rid of these people that for the last four years have been drinking our blood.”
If Syriza wins on January 25 and forms a government it has promised not to quit the eurozone, but instead cancel two-thirds of its debt, which stands at 175% of GDP, and halt the reform programme, which has restored growth at the expense of social spending.
These promises are scaring investors, but Alexis Tsipras insists he is not for turning.
“Syriza and the people’s will are not a threat for Greece or for Europe. They are the hope for a viable exit from the crisis. Greece was chosen to be the guinea pig of austerity in order to exit the crisis, this has proven to be a failure and catastrophic”
But if the stockmarket disagrees, and plunges into panic, could the nightmare scenario actually play out? Could Tsipras actually refuse to pay up and starve Greek banks of the liquidity they so desperately need from the ECB?
“I suspect that the compromises of government for Syriza would mean that they are actually a very different party to the one they claim to be in opposition. it’s always the way with these parties. Once you find yourself with your feet under the table, the situation looks very different to when you’re arguing across the floor of parliament. So it probably isn’t as scary as people think, but it’s still an unwelcome bump in the road for the euro zone,” says market analyst at IG, Chris Beauchamp.
Syriza’s programme is clearly in conflict with the goals fixed by Greece’s creditors, who have guaranteed loans of 240 billion euros since 2010. Greece got this help in return for imposing austerity, which has sent part of society spiralling into poverty.