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Σάββατο, 4 Ιουλίου 2015

Greece: chronicle of an impasse foretold

SYRIZA, the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left, was elected five months ago on the promise of “hope”. Its “Thessaloniki Program” started with the goal of writing off “the greater part of the Greek debt’s nominal value”, together with a program of humanitarian relief, which amounted to 12 billion euros that would be spent in Greece, irrespective of its creditors’ anticipated disagreement. Not only was this program never even remotely considered for implementation, but SYRIZA’s own proposal after five months of negotiations has swallowed austerity measures with indisputable recessionary effects. But this was not enough. It appears that now SYRIZA is cornered, risking a referendum with a very uncertain outcome, in essence a win-win for the troika, and with the Greek banks already closed.
So how could things turn so bad so rapidly?
A point that is often missed is that SYRIZA has been adamantly pro-euro. In fact, so much so, that this has been its main weak spot throughout negotiations. During the election campaign, Alexis Tsipras and his team persistently promised a relaxation of the strict austerity measures imposed by the coalition government of Samaras-Venizelos, although always within the eurozone, since polls showed that Greeks still wanted no rupture with the euro system. But with no power over its currency, the Greek government had to rely on the ECB for cash, while at the same time promising that it would fight austerity in Europe. This proved impossible.
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