greece

On Sunday, Greeks will go to the polls to vote for a new government, following an earlier vote in May that failed to deliver a majority for any party. The radical-left SYRIZA party (which has been campaigning on a promise to scrap the country’s EU/IMF bail-out, but which is in favour of Greece remaining inside the euro) is currently neck-and-neck with the centre-right New Democracy party (which supports the bail-out in principle, but would like to see elements of it renegotiated). The think-tank Bruegel offers some analysis of the three most likely outcomes:

  • No party wins. The vote proves inconclusive and no party is able to form a government, which “would likely lead to political chaos and make the Greek exit from the euro a real possibility”.
  • New Democracy wins. This may lead to a modest renegotiation of the bail-out terms (this Financial Times article seems to support this possibility, with claims that European officials are planning a package of “incentives” to encourage Greece to support the bail-out)
  • SYRIZA wins. Bruegel calls this outcome a “dark horse”, arguing that a SYRIZA government will likely have to break one of its main campaign promises: either it will have to accept the Greek bail-out or it will have to accept that Greece cannot stay in the euro.

Recently, we had the chance to talk to Nichi Vendola, President of the Apulia region in Italy and leader of the Left Ecology Freedom party. We asked him about the possibility of a Greek bail-out, and put some of your comments and questions to him. We started with a comment from Michael from Greece, who argued that his country “has a few alternatives, but it can only choose one and that is to stay in the eurozone and the euro.”

Mr. Vendola responded by saying that Greek voters should not be intimidated:

I think Greece has an alternative: that is to raise its voice and keep on demanding a radical change in the crazy policies that Mrs Merkel, and the worst ruling class Europe has ever had, are imposing on the Greek people and on all European people.

He also set out some of the steps he believed policy-makers needed to take in order to finally bring the eurozone crisis to an end:

Europe needs to get a bullet-proof vest; it cannot find itself undefended in front of the international speculators’ firing squads. We need more courage. We need Eurobonds. We need the European Central Bank as a lender of last resort.

A clear split seems to be developing in European politics between those who favour expansionary “growth” based fiscal policies, and those that believe in restoring market confidence through an emphasis on “austerity” and budgetary prudence. Nichi Vendola is firmly in the “growth” camp, but with the economy in crisis has he forgotten his credentials as a green politician? Our next comment came from Peter, who argued:

Our economy is geared to achieving growth and, in times of recession, the economic policy is all about returning to growth. The financial crisis is an opportunity for some basic rethinking about what the economy is for, and how, through some fundamental restructuring of our financial system, we can safeguard our economic stability in the future, as well as achieving wider social and environmental benefits.

What do YOU think? Would a vote for the radical-left SYRIZA party force Greece out of the euro? Or would it send a clear message to Merkel and other European leaders that austerity is not working? Do you think Greece should reject the bail-out deal? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.


32 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Elli Mp

    Well as a Greek I think no we shouldn’t.it’s true austerity is not leading anywhere but SYRIZA is way far from the solution that is needed.

  2. Rui Costa

    They said too many times they dont want to leave the eurozone if they win!
    What kind of propaganda are you on??? Shame on you!

  3. Debating Europe

    Hi Rui, SYRIZA is the “Coalition of the Radical Left”. So, they call themselves “radical”. ;-)

  4. Elli Mp

    Yes that’s true they said they don’t want to but with their actions they will guide us out..

  5. Natascha Adama

    The message should be clear: AUSTERITY doesn’ t WORK and impoverishing a people hurts democracy and radicalizes. It also erodes the political middle, which is needed to govern, because parties that propose a solution out of this mess can only win in a process of outbidding. There is ample historical experience, Germany, Italy during the inter-bellum, why dont the EU leaders take note of history?

  6. Σερφιώτης Εμμ. Γεώργιος

    No propaganda, dear @Rui Costa. Unfortunately, SYRIZA, has been speaking two languages. A diplomatic abroad for EU partners and an internal for greek voters; basically opposite to each other! There is no worst thing, than that.

  7. Tudor Nicolae Nimara

    SYRIZA claims to be fighting for a better Europe, with the right priorities.

    Economic market prioritization ends up dividing the states along economy lines – specifically in this case, along tax-border lines.

    The question that divides European is: “Who is going to pay for this European debt that we’ve managed to isolate in certain tax-constituencies? – Which tax-payers?”

    The answer is reform and decisive strokes against the crisis. Tax wealth, eliminate tax havens. The game seems to be rigged and if we don’t challenge it, we’ll never improve things.

    It must begin with political will. And political will begins with the voting citizen.. casting his vote for the party/political movement that is willing to do what must be done. But that’s not enough, the citizen must become part of the movement. We can’t externalize politics from our lives through the “luxury” of representative democracy. That’s partially what brought us all here.

  8. Rui Costa

    Ok you have a point in the radical thing but they are in favour of the euro, but not in favour of any type of euro as every country i think.

  9. Debating Europe

    True! We have edited the article to make it more clear that SYRIZA wants to remain inside the euro. The argument from Bruegel, however, is that SYRIZA won’t be able to both reject the bail-out deal AND remain in the euro. Others (such as Nichi Vendola) disagree.

  10. Tudor Nicolae Nimara

    I very much agree with Mr. Vendola’s fear and warnings.

    This crisis must be a wake up call. The EU has had multiple moments of crisis, or slow down. Moments when the vision blurred – academics call it Eurosclerosis.

    At the moment, one could worry about Europe’s survival. But one should also realize fast, that there are Europeans dying in Greece because of what has been done these past years and what is being done as we speak.

    Europe must belong to European society, not to the global nebulous cancer that is big capital.. floating from one continent to another, from tax haven nest to nest.

  11. Lazaros Kalaitzidis

    Thanks for starting this debate. Of course we will vote for SYRIZA. Most people in Europe don’t know it (because no media tells them) that what’s going on in Greece during the last 3 years is a social holocaust. The economy contracts by ~5-8% every year the last 5 years, unemployement has reached 22%, youth unemployement 53%, suicides’ number has reached 2000, it’s about 1 greek commiting suicide every day because he can’t see he could get his familly out of the misery that has been imposed to him.

    But let’s come to the more serious debate now. “Would a vote for the radical-left SYRIZA party force Greece out of the euro?” NO. SYRIZA has made it clear that he wants Greece IN the euro. If a vote for SYRIZA on sunday’s elections has as a result the ejection of Greece from the Eurozone then we can clearly see how those rulling the Eurozone perceive the idea of Democracy.

    “Or would it send a clear message to Merkel and other European leaders that austerity is not working?” We don’t have to wait for the result to confirm that austerity is not working. If we continue this road the only thing that we’ll witness is more and more countries needing bail outs. Portugal and Ireland are allready there (and things are not going well), Spain got it last week (and all the economists agree that they will soon need another package), Italy and Cyprus will follow in the very next weeks/months. It’s a death spiral, if we go on like this at the end there will just not be enough money for bail outs and the whole Eurozone will be bankrupt.

    Now about rejecting the bail out. Greece can’t reject the bail out. Greece needs this money since she can’t borrow from the markets. But she needs the money together with a prospect of growth and a plan that can work, as SYRIZA leader Tsipras, but also the French Francois Hollande, has said.

    Let’s hope that Europe’s values of dialogue and understanding will prevail on Monday. Otherwise it’s probably the end of the Eurozone.

  12. Lazaros Kalaitzidis

    Debating Europe, the fact that “radical” is in their name doesn’t mean that Greece has to be expelled from th EZ, I hope everybody accepts that. Moreover, if SYRIZA takes ~30% of the votes, then maybe we should realize that it’s not that “radical” after all? Except if u really believe that all greeks have gone radical of course :)

    The problem is quite simple at the end. The “austerity package” is not working. Are we keeping on on the same road? And if yes, till when? Let’s put some social barrier. We continue the same till when? Till unemployement reaches 30%? 40, 50, 60%?

  13. Elli Mp

    Lazaros the question was not we will or we won’t.it was should we.but as I can see u have no problem to speak like u represent all the greek citizens.
    There are a lot that disagree and a lot that voted or will vote syriza without knowing anything.we saw this happening with the 2 other parties for years as well.
    I feel the need to add that 30% in a country with no serious political choice is not so big and for sure doesn’t mean they are not radical.according to my logic it means we have no choice,we can’t vote for the 2 ex-big parties and we don’t want to vote for a small one since there is no way to earn the majority of the votes.so what’s left?syriza.
    Sorry but this is not what one should call success.

  14. Elli Mp

    And I feel the need to add.what would happen without bail-out?let me think.we should run a budget with zero deficit(no external loans anymore unless u r willing to have with 30% or more interest rate).would our income be enough to cover the expences?no.then we would immediately talk about 50% unemployment and dramatic situation in health,education etc.why is so difficult to understand that a destroyed,corrupted system will not drag the attention of investors?it’s not the bail-out the problem.unfortunately the problem is deeper and without the necessary reforms no bail-out,no marshal plan,no nothing will ever work.

  15. Lazaros Kalaitzidis

    I used “we” to show that we, as greeks, have the right to vote for SYRIZA, as any other party of course. Then, i can understand your caution, i never said that SYRIZA is the solution to the problem anyway. But the solution will only be found when we finally accept, as Europe, to face the problem. Till now Greeks had no representation to the “solutions”, they were imposed to them. The very same politicians of PASOK-ND never actually presented the reforms as a plan, they presented it as something that the bad Europe imposes to us. So, as a European, i want PASOK-ND to become history, and send Tsipras to negociate a new deal that will be neither greek nor german, but European. The only way to save the euro is if we act collectivelly as europeans, otherwise it’s not even worth trying, it’s already doomed.

  16. Christos Koulis

    Enen though I do not agree with many of the things that SYRIZA says, there are at least 2 strong arguments in favout of voting it. 1. the corrupted state of Greece is the result of the two former big parties PASOK and ND. I doubt if ND can fight with the corrupted state that its memeber created. 2. Before the previous election there was no discussion for amendments in austerity policies in EU. The rize of SYRIZA had an effect. My view is that with ND there is certain social destruction. With SYRIZA there is a hope for something different.

  17. Dimitris Kokoutsidis

    Well as a Greek i think you are missing the point.
    Greek elections are NOT about the euro and the bailout.
    The elections are about our lives.
    Many Greeks do not prioritize the bailout terms as the main theme in our local elections , after all it is not the European elections .
    Many Greeks give priority in criteria like ending once and for all the corupted political parties that drove us to this position.
    Lack of justice and corrupted politicians members of ND and PASOK that are still candidates.

  18. Lazaros Kalaitzidis

    Elli, you are not following me, i said it in the very first post that the bail out is necessary, but it doesn’t solve the problem by itself. The euro is a structure that merges different economies under the same currency. This has a simple outcome. Countries like Germany have a currency whose value is a lot lower than the currency they would normally have (deutscmark), and southern countries have a currency that is way overvalued. The outcome of this is that the first countries generate profits and the latter deficits. Now, either we become realist and find a way to tackle this, or we can keep on trying to make the cyrcle square until there is no european south anymore.

  19. MandyandPj Leneghan

    The real problem is the current economic model, The generally social democratic nature of Europe is totally incompatible with it, social democracy cannot work within it (economic model). We are looking at an American system being imposed in an European environment, which cannot work and this is deliberate. Under the current economic model, austerity or rather, the smashing of European social values/systems, salaries/wages, working conditions, pensions, social security, health care, education, , justice, is the only outcome that can be expected and this is no accident. At least the Greeks have a clear choice between economic models as opposed to just differing political parties from within the same system. Hollande is wavering a bit but it is still too early. A SYRIZA victory will send a clear message to the globalists, that (some) Europeans are quite capable of fighting back. Unfortunately, that would also mean that Greece will probably be targeted by the current system, which is not unlike global economic fascism. Already you can see the implied threats, if Greece does not ‘conform’ it may be booted out of the EU (for a start). Certainly, a SYRIZA victory will highlight that global monopoly capitalism is not the only game in town and may put some backbone into other groups within the European community…pj

  20. Lazaros Kalaitzidis

    @MandyandPj Leneghan, excellent post. It’s sure and certain that if SYRIZA wins Greece will be targeted (note that german Financial Times first subject in their website was a call to greeks not to hear the demagogue Tsipras and vote (again) for ND and its leader Samaras!!! #rapping_democracy) but they will also be stuck in the same dilemma where we are since 3 years. If they decide to kick Greece just because Greeks will vote for Tsipras, appart from this being undemocratic, they will also have to find a miraculous way of keeping in the eurozone the other countries that take austerity measures which will inevitably cause social unrest. And if they kick out Greece, Greece has no more choices but going back to the drachma, suffering some years and then stabilizing and returning to growth. With Greece growing, it will be impossible to keep the other countries under austerity. And then it’s the end (finally!) for the neoliberal policies. So, even if Greece is crussified, greek people will have at least saved the rest of european peoples from a life that is not livable.

  21. MandyandPj Leneghan

    “So, even if Greece is crussified, greek people will have at least saved the rest of european peoples from a life that is not livable” I would say that you are correct Lazaros, it looks like Greece will be in the front line for a while, hopefully not on their own. Another way to look at the situation in Europe and I am pinching this from another source, Scandinavian I think. Why should the people ‘be adapted’ or ‘assimilated’ to suit and serve the current economic model? If the economic model does not serve the people, then it is that economic model that must be changed and not the people. or words to that effect. Looking at what is happening, what we have is an actual economic invasion, that the invaders do not even try and hide. For example, if it was felt that the way we do things need to change, sincere policy makers, that have citizens interests in mind, would know that such changes to the social structures should only be implemented over generations and that other appropriate (and agreed) systems need to be put in place before wiping out existing structures. Given the manipulation of the financial sector, a sector that makes nothing, that creates nothing and is nothing more than a mafia run pyramid scam, that demands so called austerity measures, there can be no other way to describe it, it is a full blown economic invasion of Europe, one that has destroyed a Euro that was growing stronger, in fact, some were saying on the point of taking over from the $US as an international reserve currency. An invasion on the point of destroying the social structures that it took Europe a century and decades to build. In my opinion, this is no accident or merely poor account keeping. I wont even mention the wars, which, in my mind anyways, are all related….pj

  22. Elli Mp

    I am following u but I still see that u say different things.u said we will vote.don’t use we will.u r not a representer u have to speak only about opinions of ur own.of course we have the freedom to choose.noone said the opposite.as about the rest u can’t say I want the bail-out,I have problem but u’ll play with our rules.
    We agree about the European way to think and reflect about the problem but syriza will do that?I don’t think it is their will exactly.the only thing they keep on saying is we’ll cancel the memorandum 2.oh really?u’ll cancel stg that u didn’t even try yet(I m talking about the reforms that have been asked in the agreement and never became reality,not for more cut salaries)and u’ll demand that the rest will play by ur rules.tell me a rational reason the rest of Europe should do that.
    As about the currency.this idea is unbelievable irrational.is it the currency the prob now?was the currency the reason we were swallowing loans since ’80s?was the currency the reason of the corrupted state?was the currency the reason for the problematic public sector?was the currency the reason of creating this huge debt?sorry I don’t agree.a productive economy is a productive economy no matter what.so let’s first see our own faults before pointing with so much courage the finger to rest Europeans.

  23. Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pecurto

    Este senhor o SYRIZA sabe fazer comédia para o seu povo comenta umas opiniões para o eurogrupo comenta outra opinião A Grecia está no eurogrupo porque alguns politicos a quiseram metere e agora só tem que ajudar os seu parceiros do eurogrupo a construir as economias porque a fatura é dividida por todos

  24. Peter Schellinck

    At this stage politics have failed. This second round will lead to a socio-political hang over. People are disoriented and in distrust. Whatever the outcome we will have to sit around the table and sober up. Everybody shares part of the blame. Let’s look at this chaos as an opportunity and a lessons learned process.

    The vote will burden the elected to take up their responsibility and sort out a road map of reality rather then make belief. The fairy tail government is over. Solidarity and hard work needs to take command. The project Europe will proceed. it’s time the the EU parliament takes control.

  25. Christos Mouzeviris

    Unfortunately it was the very bad policies that the PASOK/NEW DEMOCRACY parties were following for decades, that pushed the Greek voters to bring into power parties like SYRIZA and GOLDEN DAWN…Radical and populist… With the support and tolerance from European elites (do not forget the SIEMENS scandal, where the German company was pouring money into both big parties-PASOK/ND- in order to fund their electoral campaigns in exchange to secure their favour when it came in public work contracts. Notably in the Olympic games preparations). So while the German political elite now blame the “corrupt” Greeks, it was them who where on the other side of the equasion, fleecing the Greek public from their money… Now everybody uses Greece as a scapegoat for the eurozone crisis, when we are all to blame, notably the elites of the most powerful nations in it, like Germany. If they had set up the eurozone membership rules better and created a more functioning true financial union, not just a currency union, Europe would not be in this mess… Their sins come to bite them back on their bum-bums, and they want to find a quick solution to the problem, by kicking Greece out. They do not want to do what it must be done in this case, meaning a true fiscal union, eurobonds etc. They just want to bully the Greeks to pay for all the damage, the Greeks and some other states. Have you seen how they pushed Spain into another bail-out , a “light” bail-out as they called it. Though Germany still would like to see Spain in the arms of the IMF and more austerity as in Greece.. It is not a case of one nation against another, rather the elites of certain companies in certain rich nations, against the European workers, both of other countries and those of their own.. So who can blame the Greeks if they vote for radical parties now? I do not want to see SYRIZA win either, I do not want to see Greece out of the euro or in clash with our European partners, but they leave the Greek public no choice. Have you seen how the German bankers mock and bully Greece into voting the party they favour (New Democracy)? Because they were doing good business with them, why change the status quo? The Greeks know that and they will try to give a lesson to the arrogant German elites… Or they will swallow they pill, but ONLY IF we see some real support from our European partners, and a program for job creation and stimulous, moves to a true fiscal union and the creation of the eurobonds… If not, and if the German elites continues with their bullying policies, then we will send them the SYRIZA to do business with them, see how will they like that. Though we know what their reaction will be; as Mr Hollande said in a recent interview of his in a Greek tv station, MEGA Channel, “there are forces in Europe that they would love to see Greece out of the eurozone; don’t make them the favour.” But will France, Italy, Spain,Portugal, Ireland and other countries support Greece and stand up for them against those rich German elites in order for the Greeks to bow the head and accept the austerity measures for few more years? Will we see a change in Europe’s policies? Will we see real solidarity? We can not take any more cuts. People are dying in Greece. There was a case of an 8 year old boy fainting at school because his parents did not have money to buy him food, and he was eating only boiled pasta for food for a week. We can live with the cuts that we have already endured for two years, but no further cuts… We want to see some relief effords now, some job creation in order to accept to live with low salaries and has been signed so far. Otherwise Europe, prepare to deal with the radical left of Greece.. It is not only Greece’s choice those elections, it is Europe’s.. Stop putting the gun on Greece’s head, the changes must come in a pan-European level.. So what will it be?

    • catherine benning

      What Europe must do to protect itself from the financial unregulated trading that leads to fraud, as in the US and Wall Street behaviou,r that began this unstoppable downturn to our society, is set up a system that negates our resonsibility when the Banks lose money in the game.

      It is outrageous that public tax payers funds were used to bail out gamblers of greed who knew exactly what the risks they were taking could produce. And yet, here we see, rather than dealing with their fraud as should be, they are taking more of our money and throwing it at them so they can play again.

      Now why would you think any country’s leaders would do this? Could it be because they are personally making money beyond their beliefs from this chicanery? And they don’t want it to stop.

      Why, when a con man has taken you to the cleaners or brought you to disaster, would you continue to be in bed with him? The US government policy not only backed Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, they set it up in the first place. The devastation from that polluted the entire Western worlds financail system and yet, do we see Europe looking for a divorce from such monstrous abuse? No… Why?

      Of course the answer will be, we export to them, they are keeping us in business. Oh, really. Time for a rethink on all the aspects of this relationship. We cannot afford such largesse.

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