The Corner

Danse Macabre

The dance of debt between Berlin and Athens continues. The euro zone’s north want Greece to sign up to a “rescue” package that will (even on the sunniest interpretations) just buy time until another bailout somewhat further down the road.

Open Europe meanwhile has prepared a handy guide to where things currently stand.

One of the most interesting matters raised by Open Europe turns on politics. Elections are due in Greece in April. The EU/IMF/ECB troika has pressured both former Greek prime minister Papandreou and the leader of the centre-right New Democracy party Antonis Samaras into providing written commitments to uphold the austerity plans should either win. So far so good (if unbelievable), but:

Recent polls have suggested that the three hard-left parties would garner a combined 42.5% of support – i.e. potentially more than New Democracy and PASOK together that currently poll at 31% and 8% respectively. In other words even if these two parties entered a coalition, they would still not have a majority in parliament. The Greek electorate is moving towards the extremes of the political spectrum – presumably because Greek voters increasingly see the two mainstream parties as mere executors of the demands of the Troika, Germany, France and others.

These left-wing parties will “never” (Open Europe correctly suggests) give such assurances.

The return of politics to the Eurozone proceeds apace.

And not everyone is happy about that.

…Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, said in a radio interview Greece might delay its polls and install a technocratic government that does not include politicians like Mr Venizelos and Mr Samaras, similar to the model currently in place in Italy.

Red rag, bull etc.  



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