The European Union may have just won the Nobel Peace Prize, but peace is the last thing the Sprouts of Brussels are bringing to Greece. Forcing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to knuckle under on the question of austerity has pulled the rug from under leading rightist Party New Democracy, while previously the Berlin-am-Brussels bullying of Papandreou neutered the appeal of leftist PASOK. Since then, new PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos has destroyed the Party’s credibility by openly scheming against Samaras…..and then being revealed as the main villain in the Lagarde List scandal.
A new opinon poll yesterday suggested a clear lead for Syriza, the Left Party headed by the increasingly persuasive Alexis Tsipras (pictured above). In just four weeks, New Democracy’s popularity has fallen 10%, while net, Syriza has the biggest share of voting intentions by some 15%. Over the same period, PASOK fell back a further 9%, to the point where an election tomorrow would render it a minority Party on a level with the neo-fascist Golden Dawn.
My instinct is that this is bound to concentrate Nordeurop minds when it comes to Merkel’s inflexible austerity drive. One of two things will happen: either a drive to amputate Greece from the eurozone body will gather speed, or more calm minds will prevail….and realise that the Greek State needs to be cut some slack.
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Two months ago I reaffirmed my belief that the Merkeschäuble strategy was to frighten the Greeks via the German media, and then follow the stick with a disguised carrot. But like so many well-laid plans, this one has gone awry. A combination of other alternatives for Athens (plus the German tabloid frenzy getting out of hand) led to the situation we saw earlier this week, when Chancellor Merkel had to be practically smuggled in and out of Greece.
The Troika approach in Southern Europe is having one overriding effect: to produce desperation – and therefore act as a catalyst in the germination of that very Nazi v Communist confrontation the Germans themselves genuinely fear….and the EU was allegedly formed to banish forever from the European political landscape.
Instability in a social, political and economic sense has now reached frightening proportions in the Hellenic Republic. One very important clue from last night’s new poll was that 70% believe there will be early elections again.
Meanwhile – as The Slog suggested earlier today – well-sourced feedback from Greece indicates that PASOK is internally riven. A regular Party informant asserts:
“It’s a boiling cauldron as we say in Greece. There are many inside PASOK that want Venizelos out. And Venizelos predecessor George Papaconstantinou has gone AWOL despite the fact that he has been called by the special prosecutor to testify about the Lagarde List. He is probably in the US – but when officers from the prosecutor’s office tried to find him, he did not return their calls.”
I like the cut of Alexis Tsipras’s jib: he strikes me as a diplomatic and sensible young man. Ironically, this avowed enemy of austerity and EU neocon poppycock now seems to be the last Greek standing between his country’s self-esteem and eurozone disaster.
Joke doing the rounds in the UK: There is panic in Oslo as adjudicators fear that Venizelos has eaten the Nobel Peace Pies.