Every now and then a Eurozone crisis breaks out lately. This means two things: either the common currency project is too fragile or too many people don’t believe in it. Or both.
Eurozone strong as a rock
Well, to begin with, there is not one shadow over Eurozone’s “fragility”. The fact that we are still standing after the severe financial and economic crash of the “dirty” 2008 is the best proof that eurozone is based on solid grounds. The human resources and the safety mechanisms lived up to the expectations 7 years ago and since then the fortress has grown taller. Last Spring the Banking Union was finally formed, the most important project of the EU after the Eurozone, which was established back in 1999. The Banking Union now is able to prevent future economic crisis by controlling bank crack-downs and determining who pays whom if financial armageddon ever knocks back our door.
Zero to Hero
The long lasting crisis and harsh austerity though has significantly mutated the European electorate. Most Eurozone countries, others much more or others much less, have deeply felt what austerity means. And that feeling was not instantaneous but constant and endures till today. Historically this is a “perfect” setup for radical and ambitious “from zero to hero” minds to grow. Opportunistic political parties and politicians from far right or far left have become famous during this period of time, like Mr Farage in the UK, or Marine Le Pen at the Hexagone. And this can be explained and anticipated in political science terms in a million ways.
Politics is not only business
The major problem of today’s Europe however is that the political elite are not politicians any more but sheer businessmen or businesswomen. Arrogance goes hand by hand with political blindness as well. The EU elite did save the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) once when it was needed a few years ago. But at what cost? Their answer to that was a big loud mistake. You see, in politics the political repercussions of an action is not constrained in a Profit and Loss statement.
Consequently things went farther than the business geniuses in Berlin or Stuttgart, to be more precise, could have imagined. In addition to that, the businessmen that govern Europe now use fear to convince the European electorate to mutate again back to good “prudently conservative” citizens. It is exactly the same target feeling you are imposed to when your colleague at work is getting fired in front of your eyes. But politics is nothing about that, is it?
Opa Opa strikes back
Today it is Greece that is again back in the spotlight. The black sheep in 2008 that was unexpectedly converted into a good “student” right after, is now getting tanned again under the Greek hot sun. Greek General Elections are now a couple of weeks ahead for this tiny country in the Southern tip of Europe that makes turnover only from tourism and olives. It is the same country where its citizens live with their parents until the age of 40, if they are lucky enough, and party with the 200 euros they save from the peanut monthly salary, listening recklessly to “Opa Opa” Greek pop music. Why does Europe really care about a country like this with its 3,5 million employed and 1,5 million unemployed out of a population of 11 million souls?
The answer is found partly in the astronomic number of Greece’s public debt that currently amounts to roughly 320 billion euros. And 320 billion is nothing compared to the trillions of euros of public debt of Germany, France, UK and Italy. However, we are talking there about much bigger economies for which public debt falls below the 100% of their GDP and their serious production could make their debt paying sustainable. Greece, on the contrary, is a barely bankrupt country with the Debt/GDP estimate for 2015 to reach 172%! The non viable Greek debt is what makes Eurozone’s leading members fear the most, together with the possible repercussions of a Grexit.
Syriza & the tutti frutti gang
What if Syriza wins the 25th of January elections in the country that invented democracy? According to the most recent polls the left party of Syriza is leading 3% against the incumbent New Democracy that was the conservative executive arm of Europe’s mainstream right policy. The real problem is not Alexis Tsipras’ statements that he will bring the end of austerity, the end of troika and the end of misery to the Greek citizen. Those are words that speak to the heart of his voters. Instead, the problem is the “abyss”of his electorate.
Syriza, a party that was gathering the 3% of the Greek citizen’s vote in 2000 is now exploding to more than 30%. Is it because all the Greeks suddenly became hard core left or far left leaning? Not at all. The Syriza phenomenon is a bubble that contains surely roughty 5% of fanatic leftists or even “Stalinists” but the rest 25% is filled with total disappointment. Today because of the “brilliant” austerity fruits to the people there is limited or no partisanship at all in Greece as in many European countries. All the disappointed voters of PASOK (mainstream socialist party that governed Greece for 20 years and now barely makes it to the Parliament), New Democracy conservatives that reached their “conservative limit” and non partisan unemployed and people that feel the chaos on an hourly basis, would be delighted to vote for Syriza now. Would you blame them?
This unpredictable diversity of Syriza’s voters is certainly reflected on Syriza’s politicians. You pretty much have every kind of Edem’s flower inside this upcoming political party. Moreover, the thinness of the 3% cannot satisfy governing autonomy and thus coalitions will be surely pursued in the next Greek government. There another political thriller sets off, as again Syriza will have to ally with again more diverse left/independent/of vague policy parties. What will be the final result of this “tutti frutti” government that will see the light in February? (January 25 normally will not be enough and possibly a second election round will be needed, as the Greek voters never get bored of voting)
Just a loss of time and money
But let’s not be promoters of fear or danger here like other fellow media. What will happen is a loss of money and time until the new government members are allocated with tasks and they spot the bar and the toilet of their floor at their ministry. Can Greece afford this? That is truly a tricky one. The most optimistic scenario if Syriza wins is that nothing will move in Greece before March. The creditors to the Greek state will have nobody to ask their money from until then and again the EU will prolong its demands towards Greece for a couple of months, so that the new government settles in.
The most important issue that no media underlined so far in their political reportage though is that according to the most recent polls, the majority of the Greek voters wants to stay in the Eurozone/Europe! Syriza executives, even though they are difficult to listen to or communicate, they embrace this and lately in the Greek media they make more “prudent” pro European statements. Of course this is not outlined in the rest of the European media as the aim is to intimidate the Greek voter and Mr Tsipras too that Berlin will be throwing them out of Europe, if they refuse to pay what they owe.
To cut a long story short, nobody really wants Grexit. Not Brussels, Not Berlin, not even the Greeks themselves. Trying to do the impossible from distance, control the outcome of the elections, with fear and “like minded” European media articles, is only resulting in the euro currency and economy to drop, as it did.
What the businessmen in Stuttgard and Berlin should do, instead, is first show some basic tolerance in democracy and then try to renegotiate a couple of terms with the Syriza’s “diverse” government to come.
Since there is no political will for a Grexit, let’s all forget about that eurosceptic linguistic invention and keep walking.