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Voting in the dark
The country goes to the polls: The EU observes worried
President Károlos Papoúlias’s preoccupied face while he says he is “afraid of the dangers” threatening his Greece, is very telling of the country’s situation. The appointment of head of interim government and new elections (the 10th or more likely the 17th of June ) are the last steps of a political instability which is worsening the country’s economic and social situation.
The outcome of May 6th vote was unable to appoint a clear majority capable of guiding Athens. The pro-Europe forces, headed by the New Democracy (center-right) and Pasok (socialist) have been punished by voters. Exponential growth of the extreme left Tsipras and the nationalist and xenophobic right are clear signs of the growing social reality which is however not strong enough to guide the country.
New elections are necessary for Athens, notwithstanding uncertainties on the popular vote’s ability to determine new political balances. It will also be hard for the European backers (accept further austerity measures imposed by Brussels in exchange for strong financial help from the EU, ECB and the IMF) as well as those against it ( out of the euro area, back to the drachma, default risk and strengthening of financial speculation). Greeks are wondering whether to accept the “tears and blood” recipe imposed by Europe to get their house in order, stay in the euro area and single market or ease pressure on salaries, public employment, pensions but increase uncertainties on country’s economic future stability that would abruptly isolate it from Europe and that is not all.
The European Union will not just sit still and look. The extraordinary summit of the Heads of State and government scheduled for May 23 will be centered on the Greek-case, even if various premiers are showing signs of weariness towards Athens, and would rather concentrate on growth. Athens is now at risk of losing Community back up.
During the bilateral meeting held on May 15th, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President François Hollande, expressed their desire for Greece to stay in the eurozone. However, even in this occasion, the two leaders appeared concerned about the European economic crisis; they reaffirmed their commitment on the budget and will include growth measures to the “fiscal compact” treaty. Merkel and Hollande discussed about Eurobonds, investments and job emergency, therefore Greece but also much more.
In the meantime, the case of Greece was addressed at the Eurogroup and ECOFIN meeting (May 14 and 15). The Council of the 27 Economics and Finance Ministers have been informed of the new elections in Greece. Jean-Claude Juncker, Eurogroup President and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, stressed the goal to keep Greece among the Countries of the euro. But more than one Minister showed skepticism on this fact. Internationally, Christine Lagarde, head of The International Monetary Fund, said (almost in a message addressed to Greek people): “I hope Athens will not leave the euro area, but its concerted exit is one of the options we are considering from a technical view point”.. And this is what has been discretely studied for sometime now in FrankfurtI, at the Eurotower of the European Central Bank.
“The future of Greece belongs to the Greeks”, has been frequently repeated in the last days between Paris and Berlin, Rome, London and Brussels. Even in Washington . It is self-evident but full of uncertainties. For the Mediterranean country and more than ever for the euro area and Europe as a whole.
18/05/2012 - Gianni Borsa - Sir Europe (Bruxelles)