The day after she retires from politics (next Friday would be good) Angela Merkel will be able to earn a fortune from explaining to a small niche market how to get up the nose of everyone you perceive to be in your way.
As speculation about Greece’s future in the eurozone threatened to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday suggested to President Karolos Papoulias that the Greeks should hold a referendum at the same time as the general election (June 17th) in order to quantify exactly how many Greeks want to remain in the single currency bloc.
Those without medium term memory problems will recall Papandreou expressing exactly this idea to European bigwigs last October, and immediately being told to wash his mouth out, resign and disappear.
So we should hardly be surprised that news of her suggestion went down like a vomit sandwich with Greece’s main party leaders.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras accused Merkel of treating Greece like a “protectorate”. New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras observed that “The Greek people do not need a referendum to prove their choice to stay in the eurozone.” Socialist PASOK stated that “referendums fall exclusively within the competencies of the government and the Greek Parliament and not the EU or other member states.”
And yet somehow, despite all the crass blundering around of Berlin-am-Brussels, the Greek voters are clearly worried again….as in, worried enough to put New Democracy back in the lead again at 26.1% in the latest Greek opinion poll I’ve heard about – compared to 23.7% for SYRIZA.
The poll’s key finding, however, is that along with the Socialist PASOK party, New Democracy would have enough seats to form a pro-bailout government, which it failed to win in the May 6th election.
All of which continues to make me question the idea that Grexit is a done deal.