Greece 2015: austerity pain leaves the Left a golden chanceComments
Greece could return to the centre of the European crisis in 2015 if the Greek parliament fails to elect the country’s president. Such a scenario would trigger early elections that could usher in the opposition Syriza coalition. The only major Greek political party opposed to the country’s bailout program, Syriza, leads Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party in the opinion polls. But Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, is likely to fall short of winning an absolute majority and would probably have to stitch together a coalition.
After six years of economic depression, the government finds itself, yet again, in an acute political crisis. Tsipras wants to roll back the nation’s economic austerity programs and restructure Greece’s debt, which could trigger a fight with Europe over the country’s bailout program.
The thought of Greece defaulting on its debts makes financial markets nervous and generates uncertainty across the Eurozone, at a time when Europe thought it had found some stability. Or, is it more like resignation, as suggests a prominent columnist of the very liberal FT daily? “The tragedy of today’s Eurozone”, writes Wolfgang Munchau, “is the sense of resignation with which the establishment parties of the centre-left and the centre-right are allowing Europe to drift into the economic equivalent of a nuclear winter. It is a particular tragedy that parties of the hard left are the only ones that support sensible policies such as debt restructuring.”
Now, all of this makes for a puzzling situation. On one hand Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the European Commission, stated in a broadcast interview that he does not wish “to see extremist forces take power in Greece”. On the other hand, the world’s leading financial newspaper asks us: if you were a citizen of a eurozone country, and you wanted to see more public-sector investment and debt restructuring, which political party would you support? The FT’s own answer will leave you pondering: “You may be surprised to see that there is not much choice. In Germany, the only one that comes close to such an agenda is Die Linke, the former Communists. In Greece, it would be Syriza; and in Spain, it would be Podemos, which came out of nowhere and is now leading in the opinion polls. »