Flipping the Bird While Playing Chicken

by Andrew Stuttaford

There have been no recent opinion polls, but the current best guesstimate for Sunday’s Greek seems to be that the center-right New Democracy is narrowly ahead (coming first is crucial: the winner gets an additional first prize of fifty parliamentary seats, a big deal in a 300-seat parliament) of the far-left Syriza coalition. If that’s how it turns out, the next question will be whether ND has enough to rule on its own (almost certainly not) and, if not, whether it will be able to form a governing coalition.

As for Syriza, its leader, Alexis Tsipras, claims to believe that German fear of the consequences of a disorderly Greek exit from the euro-zone means that he will be able both to ensure Greek’s continued membership of the currency union  and gut the current austerity deal.  In other words, he is prepared to bet that “drachmail” (not his term) will work. If he wins first place, and gets to try this gamble he will need to make it as easy as possible for Angela Merkel to climb down.

If so, this is a curious way to go about it:

Via the Daily Telegraph:

Greece’s radical leftist leader Alexis Tsipras told a final campaign rally on Thursday night that his party represented the new Europe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel the old. Forecasting victory for his Syriza party in Sunday’s election, Mr Tsipras said he would keep Greece in the euro but also boost growth after five years of recession, calling for a “renegotiation” of harsh credit conditions attached to his country’s €130bn bailout. He said his main rival, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, “has guaranteed Merkel’s Europe of the past”.