Greece’s crushing economic crisis – and political infighting – has drawn remarkable attention from foreign media, from commentary to news and societal stories.
In a New York Times Op-ed, Josef Joffe, Editor of the German newspaper Die Zeit talked about the changing prospects of whether Greece would be forced out of the Eurozone if the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) wins the critical Jan. 25 elections and comes to power
The commentary, No Exit For Greece, indicated that it was unlikely Greece wouldn’t be in the Eurozone no matter what happens.
“Not even Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the radical leftist Syriza party, wants out. Apparently on track to win the snap elections on Jan. 25, he has vowed: We will stick with the euro, no doubt,’” Joffe wrote.
He added: “Nor does anybody else — including Germany — want Greece to leave, if truth be told, even though the German leader, Angela Merkel, now has her minions spreading the word that a “Grexit” is no longer an absolute no-no. If Mr. Tsipras wins and then imposes another haircut on the country’s creditors while nixing market reforms and fiscal rigor, then it will be auf Wiedersehen to Hellas. So goes the unspoken — but ultimately hollow — threat from Berlin.”
He said the Tsipras-Merkel staredown is what he called “a monetary game of chicken. As we know from war gaming, the party that appears to be crazier than the rest tends to score.”
Joffe wrote that if SYRIZA rules that Tsipras will bend to reality and discover that he can’t run a country without money, which could happen if he reneges on the 240 billion euros ($306 billion) loan payments Greece owes the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that demanded, and got, austerity measures in return.
“If SYRIZA does come to power (though at the moment its lead is shrinking), the new government will yield here and there to make nice with Ms. Merkel. But any government, left-wing or centrist, knows one big thing: Greece has a history of bailouts on its side. That will dampen the passions of ardent reformists.”
The idea of Greece leaving the Eurozone was a campaign tactic that New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras in 2012 used to narrowly defeat SYRIZA and he’s doing so again, but the EU and ECB have strengthened the financial bloc since.
So, wrote Joffe, Greece is going nowhere and will stay in the zone. “With its tiny economy, Greece can and will be saved, again. It is too small to fail, so to speak.”
And while Greece’s dilemma is big stuff to Greeks and the Diaspora, and even to the markets, he thought it was overplayed.
He wrote: “Greece’s problems are peanuts, relatively speaking,” although there’s 240 billion – or 306 billion – of them.