Australian Open 2015

1 Feb

 

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Filip Singer/European Pressphoto Agency

Spanish press on Greece: El Pais: “The Son of the Grand Recession”; Cinco Dias: “The End of the Merkel Strategy”

30 Jan

EL PAÍS

El hijo político de la Gran Recesión

Alexis Tsipras tendrá que demostrar si es un síntoma o el remedio de la crisis

 

El político griego Alexis Tsipras. / sciammarelli

Alexis Tsipras, de 40 años, licenciado en ingeniería por la Universidad de Atenas y sin ninguna experiencia de gobierno, está a 24 horas de convertirse en el primer líder de la izquierda radical que alcanza el poder en un país de la Unión Europea. La victoria de su partido, Syriza, en las elecciones, algo que todas las encuestas aseguran desde hace meses, no solo jubilará el sistema político que ha gobernado Grecia desde hace 40 años sino que reverberará en toda Europa como una advertencia política insoslayable sobre el desprestigio de las elites y los estragos sociales causados por unas medidas de austeridad convertidas en dogma. Pero, a partir de este lunes, Tsipras, hijo mediterráneo de la Gran Recesión que azota su país desde hace un lustro, tendrá que demostrar si es un síntoma de la crisis griega o su remedio.

El nuevo héroe de la izquierda alternativa continental empezó su carrera política siendo adolescente en las juventudes del Partido Comunista griego (KKE), de obediencia soviética más allá de la desaparición de la URSS, que abandonó para unirse a Synaspismós, una coalición de movimientos de izquierdas y ecologistas, de la que acabó siendo elegido presidente en 2008.

Dos años antes, Tsipras había sido su candidato a la alcaldía de Atenas y, contra todos los pronósticos, alcanzó el 10,5 % de los sufragios, impulsado sobre todo por el voto de los jóvenes. Más tarde vendría la fundación de Syriza (Coalición de la Izquierda radical), de la que su antiguo partido es el grupo más fuerte, y un ascenso electoral meteórico en tres años —del 5 % que rebañó en 2009 al 27 % que consiguió en junio de 2012— que ha corrido en paralelo con una crisis que precipitaba día a día a Grecia en el infierno de los Estados fallidos.

Tsipras supo interpretar mejor que el resto de la clase política el estado de ánimo de la sociedad griega, harta de un país dominado por la corrupción, el clientelismo y el inmutable poder de las grandes familias y supo también decir lo que la gente quería oír. Telegénico, buen orador y mejor táctico, aprovechó el colapso de las clases medias representadas hasta entonces por el centro izquierda del Pasok y se benefició de la fractura del sistema de partidos entre los defensores de las medidas de austeridad impuestas por la troika (UE, BCE y FMI) como un mal necesario o sus acérrimos detractores, de los que acabó erigiéndose líder indiscutible.

Sus palabras contra la “humillación” que infligía Bruselas a Grecia por orden de la canciller alemana Angela Merkel y sus denuncias de la complicidad de las clases dirigentes nacionales en los males de su país, así como sus llamamientos a la recuperación de la esperanza y la dignidad han caído como un bálsamo, más aún, un tonificante, para un pueblo psicológicamente con la autoestima por los suelos. Los griegos, que han visto como el PIB de su país se reducía una cuarta parte en los últimos cinco años y el desempleo se elevaba hasta el 25 %, llegaban al límite de su resistencia y Tsipras era el único que gritaba. ¡Basta!

Un tipo ambicioso, narcisista y con rudimentarios conocimientos de economía, según sus críticos, o una figura carismática, inteligente y flexible, de acuerdo con sus partidarios, Tsipras, convertido desde hace dos años en el líder de la oposición en su país, ha sabido hasta ahora revertir en su favor los ataques recibidos tanto internacionales como nacionales.

Narcisista y con rudimentarios conocimientos de economía para sus críticos; inteligente y flexible, según sus partidarios

El desaire de Angela Merkel de no recibirlo cuando él le solicitó una entrevista en junio de 2012 u opiniones como la expresada por Jean-Claude Juncker, actual presidente de la Comisión Europea, un mes antes, negándole conocer los problemas de Grecia o ser el hombre adecuado para su país, así como la campaña del miedo lanzada por su principal rival, Andonis Samarás, el líder de Nueva Democracia (centro derecha), acusándole de falsedades como el ser partidario de que Grecia abandonase el euro o de querer retirar los iconos de las iglesias no han hecho más que reforzarlo.

Nacido en Atenas pocos días después de la caída de la Dictadura de los Coroneles en 1974, hijo de un ingeniero de clase media y educado en el sistema público de enseñanza, ha aprendido inglés muy recientemente y vive en un apartamento alquilado en un modesto barrio de la capital griega con Peristera Baziana, su novia de toda la vida a la que llama Betty y con la que tiene dos hijos pequeños. Su único lujo, una moto BMW de gran cilindrada.

Pero uno de los signos de su imagen —no se le ha visto nunca con corbata— puede tener los días contados. En las últimas semanas, a medida que el poder parecía poder tocarse con la mano, Tsipras ha ido moderando sus mensajes y modulando sus gestos. Partidario de la separación de la Iglesia y el Estado en un país donde representantes de la jerarquía de la iglesia ortodoxa presiden los principales actos políticos o había que declarar la fe religiosa en el carné de identidad hasta no hace mucho tiempo, el líder izquierdista sorprendió a propios y extraños el pasado 6 de enero participando en una ceremonia de la Epifanía en el puerto de El Pireo con Jerónimo, el arzobispo de Atenas. También ha declarado que su héroe es Franklin D. Roosevelt por su manejo de la crisis del 29 y ha eliminado un retrato del Che Guevara de su oficina.

Menos anecdótico es el cambio de tono en asuntos europeos y económicos. Su intención es “cambiar Europa, no desmantelarla”, renegociar la deuda con los acreedores internacionales con objeto de aliviar la carga de los ciudadanos y que Grecia deje de ser un “protectorado de Berlín” y vuelva a ser un país normal. También está en evisión su plan económico, el llamado Programa de Salónica, que contemplaba una generosa expansión del gasto público. Habrá que esperar unos meses para saber si Alexis Tsipras es la solución o parte del problema de la crisis de Grecia y de Europa.

Días críticos para la zona euro

El principio del fin de la estrategia de Merkel

La canciller alemana, Angela Merkel.

(EFE)

Las señales se suceden y son cada vez más inequívocas. La zona euro se aleja a pasos apresurados de la estrategia seguida durante cinco años para combatir la crisis, una estrategia dictada en gran parte por Berlín y que muchos socios han seguido solo a regañadientes. Incluso la canciller alemana, Angela Merkel, parece consciente de que su fórmula se ha agotado y ha empezado a cambiar el rumbo.

El giro de Merkel, como casi siempre con la canciller, es aparentemente imperceptible hasta que se consuma y se comprueba que ha sido de 180 grados. La victoria en Grecia de Syriza, un partido que gracias a su oposición a la troika ha pasado de 313.000 votos en 2009 a rozar este domingo la mayoría absoluta con más de dos millones de votos, parece la puntilla a los dictados habituales de Berlín. Merkel acepta ya o se resigna a que la zona euro siga otro tratamiento, aunque solo sea para evitar una crisis política tan peligrosa o más como la financiera.

Fuentes europeas subrayan la resignación con que Merkel ha aceptado el plan de compra de deuda aprobado el jueves pasado del BCE, a pesar de que es conocida la abierta oposición de Berlín. El silencio de Merkel, señalan esas fuentes, ha evitado un peligroso choque con Mario Draghi, presidente del BCE.

Berlín tampoco ha boicoteado el plan de inversión lanzado por el nuevo presidente de la Comisión Europea, Jean-Claude Juncker, una gota de 300.000 millones de euros pero que aspira a romper con una política que ha sido restrictiva incluso en los países con margen presupuestario. Juncker también ha logrado sacar adelante una tímida reinterpretación del Pacto de Estabilidad que no varía los fundamentos de esa norma, pero que pretende conceder a Bruselas algo más de margen en la evaluación del déficit excesivo de los socios del euro.

El silencio de Merkel también ha resonado durante la campaña electoral en Grecia. En 2012, la ofensiva de Berlín, con amenazas de expulsión del euro incluidas, logró evitar la victoria de Syriza en Grecia y propició la formación de un gobierno de coalición entre populares y socialistas presidido por Samaras. En 2015, Alemania no ha intervenido, salvo alguna filtración inoportuna al parecer más ligada al ministerio de Finanzas que a la cancillería.

La prueba de fuego de la nueva actitud de Merkel llegará con la renegociación del rescate de Grecia y con la ampliación (o no) de los plazos para que Francia reduzca su déficit por debajo del 3% (ahora dispone hasta finales de este año).

En Bruselas, algunas fuentes dudan de la conversión de Merkel. Pero incluso si se confirma conviene no minusvalorar la capacidad de la canciller para sembrar dudas sobre el futuro de la zona euro. La semana pasada, por imposición de Berlín, el BCE tuvo que añadir una letra pequeña a su plan de compra de deuda que deja claro al inversor que Alemania quiere cuentas separadas por si se rompiera la moneda única. Los mercados han preferido ignorar esa diabólica semilla plantada por Merkel. Pero podría brotar con fuerza si vuelve la inestabilidad.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

“Greece’s Agonized Cry to Europe” & “Ending Greece’s Nightmare” — TIMES editorial and Krugman: “The troika … was peddling an economic fantasy.”

27 Jan

Zappeion5d36c634-e1c9-4a23-aba2-ff07e45afbd5-2060x1236Photograph: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS (double-click)

Here’s The Times, Greece’s Agonized Cry to Europe:

The message from Sunday’s elections in Greece was unambiguous: The Greeks cannot and will not continue to abide by the austerity regime that has brought their economy to its knees. It was a message the Germans and other Europeans who continue to insist that Greece pay off its mountainous debt, no matter what the damage, must hear. Persisting on their dogmatic course is not only wrong for Greece but dangerous for the entire European Union.

It is too soon to anticipate how Alexis Tsipras, the maverick politician whose left-wing Syriza party won 36.3 percent of the popular vote and nearly gained an outright majority in Parliament, intends to deliver on the promises he made to voters to abandon the austerity program while reducing the nation’s debt and retaining the euro.

These goals are fundamentally incompatible, but the new prime minister has signaled to Europeans that he is ready to moderate his ambitions once in office. It is essential that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who is seen by Greeks as the prime architect of the austerity program, and the “troika” of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which manage the Greek bailout, demonstrate a similar readiness to ease the size and conditions of Greece’s debt burden.

And my man Krugman, Ending Greece’s Nightmare” (my emphases all through):

To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.

You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.

What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.

What went wrong? I fairly often encounter assertions to the effect that Greece didn’t carry through on its promises, that it failed to deliver the promised spending cuts. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Greece imposed savage cuts in public services, wages of government workers and social benefits. Thanks to repeated further waves of austerity, public spending was cut much more than the original program envisaged, and it’s currently about 20 percent lower than it was in 2010.

Yet Greek debt troubles are if anything worse than before the program started. One reason is that the economic plunge has reduced revenues: The Greek government is collecting a substantially higher share of G.D.P. in taxes than it used to, but G.D.P. has fallen so quickly that the overall tax take is down. Furthermore, the plunge in G.D.P. has caused a key fiscal indicator, the ratio of debt to G.D.P., to keep rising even though debt growth has slowed and Greece received some modest debt relief in 2012.

Why were the original projections so wildly overoptimistic? As I said, because supposedly hardheaded officials were in reality engaged in fantasy economics. Both the European Commission and the European Central Bank decided to believe in the confidence fairy — that is, to claim that the direct job-destroying effects of spending cuts would be more than made up for by a surge in private-sector optimism. The I.M.F. was more cautious, but it nonetheless grossly underestimated the damage austerity would do.

And here’s the thing: If the troika had been truly realistic, it would have acknowledged that it was demanding the impossible. Two years after the Greek program began, the I.M.F. looked for historical examples where Greek-type programs, attempts to pay down debt through austerity without major debt relief or inflation, had been successful. It didn’t find any.

So now that Mr. Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working.

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Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Tsipras’ first cool act.

27 Jan

He was sworn-in in a civil ceremony without the Church or any clergy present.  I’m still unsure about this guy — as happy as I am about a SYRIZA victory — but this was a cool and definitive statement.  The Church of Greece needs to know its place — in church.

Tsipras11da7554-d82b-4bc1-a62e-ec2febfd5ced-620x413 Alexis Tsipras is sworn-in. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA (click)

GREECE_2290790fPhoto: Alexis Tsipras (r) shakes hands with Greek president Karolos Papoulias during his swearing-in ceremony (Reuters: Yannis Behrakis)

Hands6047626-3x2-940x627Don’t understand the need to form a coalition with a member of a far-right, anti-immigrant party to gain majority in parliament.  Wasn’t there some docile old communist they could’ve taken out of the moth-balls?  But I guess strange bed-fellows is something we have to live with.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

“Χριστός Ανέστη” — Christ Has Risen — and I’m so damn PROUD…

25 Jan

I swear to God those were the first words — the two most totemic in the Greek language — that instinctively leapt out of my mouth when a very loved cousin of mine in Athens answered her mobile today.

Anastasis_fresco_(Chora_Church)The Resurrection fresco in the church of the Chora in Constantinople (click)

I don’t know what will happen.  Tomorrow, me…and Greeks all over the world will wake up sober — or hungover — and have to figure out how this thing is actually going to work.

But one thing all of us need to understand is the power of language and discourse.  By “discourse” I mean the idea and interpretations that people give and ascribe to the phenomena in the world around them; that discourse is “poetic” and a process of “poiesis”— not poetic like Byron or Baudelaire — but poetic in the original Greek sense of “making” or “creating.”  What that means is that DISCOURSE: what people say about things, how people talk about and interpret reality, the opinions and analyses of that reality, are not an either accurate or inaccurate view of that reality but a code and a language that create that reality.  This is simple stuff.  Intro to Deconstruction.  Foucault 101.  And nowhere is it truer than in the “game of chicken” played in the arena of political economics.

So, like I said in GREEK ELECTIONS,” if a critical mass believes a hypothesis is true — or just possible — then it becomes true; then actions and gestures on the ground, and praxeis in the “real,” physical world will create that reality, poetically.  And if we continue to bolster — worse, think we deserve — the Troika’s Neo-Liberal discourse of exploitation, then it will continue.  If we support a discourse, if we believe that an alternative to that reality is possible, then it will emerge.  It only took some workers in a Gdańsk shipyard to say: “I’m not gonna pretend that I believe this shit anymore”; it only took a heroic Gorbachev to say: “This isn’t working”, for the most horrific political economic system that has ever been inflicted on humanity, and that seemed as eternal and as immoveable as Everest, to come crashing down like a house of cards from one day to the next.

This will work, if we let it.  They’ll feed us a language of fear, which if we swallow, will ruin us.  If we simply keep in mind: “That’s what you think — and want us to think — but we won’t,” change will come.

ALSO, we, as ROMANS, should be immensely proud that so many other left-leaning, anti-austerity parties from the rest of the European periphery: Spain, Portugal — and even from Prussia itself and other parts of Merkelstan — came to be part of these elections.  If it gives them only a tiny drop of optimism, if it makes them feel like: “Yes, we can say ‘No!’ too”, it will be a by far greater gift to them than anything else we supposedly gave the West in the past.

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

Photo: “Greece…Fuck Yeah!!!”

25 Jan

No further comment from me right now other than what I wrote in GREEK ELECTIONS: “Greek voters may be about to plunge the European Union into a full-fledged economic and political crisis“, which you might want to re-read because I’ve re-edited it some.

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The Guardian has great updates: 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

-_-(

Everybody’s talking about how a Syriza victory shaking up Europe would be an unfortunate by-product: collateral damage…

25 Jan

…an accidental consequence if we’re not careful and we irresponsibly let Tsipras blindly lead us into this trap….when SHAKING UP EUROPE IS PRECISELY THE POINT!!!

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 11.47.15 PMGiannis Papanikos/AP (Click)

by Barbie Latza Nadeau — for THE DAILY BEAST

ELECTIONS
01.24.15
Greece’s Alexis Tsipras: The Man Who Could Break Europe
Sunday’s elections in Greece could bring to power a party that’s pitting the debt-ridden south of Europe against the rich north. Can its leader’s charisma carry the day?

In 2012, when Alexis Tsipras last ran to be prime minister of Greece, his compatriots were quite literally killing themselves in public squares because of the tough austerity measures that had strangled the country’s economy.

Tsipras, just 37 years old at the time, personable, extremely telegenic, took a page from his playbook as a student activist to rabble-rouse for a better life. Tsipras’s office was adorned with a poster of Ernesto “Che” Guevera. (His youngest son is named Ernesto.) And he rarely wore a necktie—especially when he tooled around Athens on his German BMW motorcycle.

His alternative-left Syriza party, he said, was the ticket out of the hell that Greece had become. “We have never been in such a bad place,” he told The Daily Beast back then. “Greeks are on their knees and leaving the country en masse. This is not an acceptable future for a European state.”

Back then, Tsipras promised to guide Greece to a better future, which he proposed would be one without the single European currency and thus outside what’s called the Eurozone.

In the end, Tsipras lost the election, which was played out in two rounds after no clear winner emerged from the first poll. But the fact that Syriza won 27 percent of the vote meant that more than a quarter of Greeks thought his plan had legs, and that worried mightily the powers that be Berlin and Brussels.

Leaders from the rich states in the northern tier launched an anti-Syriza campaign that hurt the untested young leader among those who worried that leaving the euro would be disastrous. “If Syriza comes first, Europe should be very afraid: my expectation is that we would have chaos,” Kevin Featherstone, head of the Hellenic Observatory at the London School of Economics told The Guardian at the time. “There would be huge instability and uncertainty on international financial markets and frenzy with a government that is a loose coalition and lacking clarity of purpose being forced to make decisions.”

Tsipras, who is back on the ballot on Sunday, has changed a lot since that last electoral run. Back then his partner was pregnant with little Ernesto. Now Tsipras spends more time carting his two kids around in the family sedan than joyriding on his beloved bike. He still isn’t photographed much in a tie, but his approach is far more tempered and moderate. This time he is running on a promise not to leave the eurozone. (He now calls his 2012 campaign promise a “paranoid plan.”) And this time, he might just win because many of the negative projections have come true and things in Greece have gotten worse. More than 200,000 Greeks have left the country in the last five years, and austerity has forced many businesses to shutter up or go off the radar. Greece’s black market economy is now estimated to account for nearly half of the country’s GDP.

More than 200,000 Greeks have left the country in the last five years, and austerity has forced many businesses to shutter up or go off the radar.

There are also signs that Europeans in other countries who once fought to keep the eurozone intact at any cost now feel they could get along pretty well without Greece. After all, it has a population of only 11 million in a European Union of 500 million and it represents only about 1.4 percent of the union’s GDP.

In early January, Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly quoted a source close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that Berlin was “open” to a Greek exit, or Grexit, as the potential departure move is known.

Under pressure, Merkel was forced to backtrack, insisting unconvincingly that she wanted Greece to stay. “I as German chancellor, and also the German government, have always pursued a policy of Greece staying in the euro zone,” she said at a joint press conference with British prime minister David Cameron.

This time around, Tsipras has promised the Greeks that Europe needs them and has no choice but to renegotiate Greece’s bailout debt conditions. And Greeks like what they hear. Days before the vote, he widened his lead by nearly 7 points ahead of current prime minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party, according to the last poll conducted by Greek SKAI television.

Last time, Tsipras came out swinging against Europe and its currency. This time he is picking his fights, and trying to build alliances across the southern tier of the continent.

Tsipras argues that in order to stay in the eurozone, Greece’s ruling party has negotiated a foolhardy payment schedule for its $378 million bailout debt that makes it impossible for the country to grow. The current repayment plan is 175 percent of the gross domestic product, and Tsipras wants a better deal, starting with his demand that Europe should simply erase most of the Greek debt.

“Hope is coming,” he says, repeating the Syriza campaign mantra. “Five years of destruction and fear have led nowhere. Enough is enough.”

The lessons the young leader has learned since the last elections are apparent. He has traded what amounted to fear-mongering in his last electoral campaign for consensus building, starting with a promise to some of his former naysayer European leaders. Many of Europe’s struggling countries have launched their own versions of alternative leftist Syriza parties and Tsipras had made the rounds to Italy, Spain and Portugal in recent months.

In 2012, Tsipras gave wide ranging interviews to most people who cared enough to ask. This time around, he is writing op-eds in Europe’s largest newspapers to garner support not only for voting Greeks who have moved abroad, but to get Europe’s other austerity-suffering countries to back the debt reshuffling proposal with the idea that such a precedent could help them, too.

Writing in the Spanish daily El Pais, Tsipras tries to assure Spain that Greece can lead the way for all of Europe’s struggling economies. “From the darkness of austerity and of authoritarianism, into the light of democracy, of solidarity and of sustainable development,” he writes. “For this reason, Greece is only the beginning. Within this year, Spain’s turn is coming. The change begins from the South. The defeat of the political sponsors of austerity, foreclosures, of insecurity and fear, of corruption and the scandals has its launching point in our countries.”

Tsipras changed his message slightly in a hard hitting op-ed in the Financial Times a few days later, in which he says Europe must end austerity so as not to let “fear” kill democracy. “We have a duty to negotiate openly, honestly and as equals with our European partners. There is no sense in each side brandishing its weapons,” he writes. “Unless the forces of progress and democracy change Europe, it will be Marine Le Pen and her far-right allies that change it for us.”

On January 14, Tsipras fielded questions with the hashtag #asktsipras in what turned out to be an ingenious town hall debate that garnered 32,000 tweets in the first few hours after it launched. He accused the ruling class of “creating a breeding ground for scandals” and touched on everything from tax reform to foreign policy. He tweeted, “We will not take part in NATO with a bowed head. We will not support military interventions. We will defend international legality.”

Tsipras has come a long way in just a few years, but not all of Europe is optimistic about a Tsipras-led Greece. In an interview ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, which owns a lot of the Greek debt, quashed Tsipras’s debt renegotiation promise and said there is very little wiggle room when it comes to renegotiating debt. “A debt is a debt and it is a contract,” she told The Irish Times. “Defaulting, restructuring, changing the terms has consequences on the signature and the confidence in the signature.”

Speaking to RTLZ television ahead of the Davos meetings, Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the influential Eurogroup of European ministers agreed. “There’s no political support to write off Greek debt,” he said.

And in Germany, there was that Der Spiegel report that the German government would rather have a Greek-free euro than open the way for a trend that would be costly to the richer nations. “The German government considers a euro zone exit [by Greece] to be almost inevitable if opposition leader Alexis Tsipras leads the government after the election and abandons budgetary ­discipline and does not repay the country’s debts,” the magazine reported.

Even at home in Greece, not everyone predicts that Tsipras will walk away with a clear mandate to run the country. Alexis Papachelas, executive editor of Greece’s Ekathimerini newspaper, cautions that the likely scenario of a second vote, like what happened in 2012 when the first ballot failed to produce a winner, could spell even bigger disaster for the country.

“Whichever party wins Sunday’s elections will be faced with a mountain of obligations. Tax revenues have plummeted and banks are under enormous pressure. Some inside Syriza like to believe they have a solution to every problem: Foreign lenders will give Greece ample time, the [European Central Bank] will provide unlimited liquidity to Greek banks …,” he says. “Or so they think. For if you attempt to cross-check the information you will find very little in the form of a convincing answer. It’s like they are divorced from reality.”

Tsipras’s response is typically stirring: “The struggle of our peoples for change is the struggle of common sense versus ideological fanaticism,” he says. “It is the struggle of dignity versus servitude,” he says.

But at the end of the day, somebody’s got to pay the bills.

No.  At the end of the day, one of the two forces at play here will blink…

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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