Aided and abetted by the right-wing nationalists of the Independent Greeks, Alexis Tsipras has been returned to power in Greece at the head of a New Syriza “experiment” to implement the EU bail-out, and associated austerity measures, that the Old Syriza experiment was once elected to oppose. Given the contortions Tsipras has put his party, and his country, through it was interesting to see the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, quick off the mark to congratulate Tsipras [on his chutzpah? – Ed] on “the successful outcome of the Greek elections“. As Newton Emerson noted in Saturday’s Irish News
Gerry Adams appears to have misunderstood a slightly related situation, tweeting “well done 2 the Greek electorate” on the re-election of prime minister Alexis Tsipras. What the Greeks voted for was austerity, after Tsipras did a U-turn and split his party by accepting the EU bailout package he was initially elected to oppose. However, perhaps I have misunderstood Adams and he was signalling that a Stormont welfare reform deal is imminent – in which case, may I be the first to say well done Gerry.
Varoufakis said in a statement to The Press Project, a Greek website, that Sunday’s elections served two purposes.
“First to nullify the brave ‘No’ which 62 percent of the Greek population (under media fear-mongering and closed banks-capital controls) said to dead end, humiliating and irrational bailout programs and memoranda,” he said.
“Second, the ‘legalization’ of the capitulation that followed the signing of the dead end, humiliating and irrational 3rd (bailout) memorandum.”
[Shome mishtake, shurely? – Ed] Apparently not. And don’t call me Shirley…
The Guardian reports on the task ahead for the new Greek coalition government
Recovery to a great degree would rest on the rapid implementation of reforms. “The new government has no time to waste on trials and experiments. The third memorandum [bailout accord] leaves no space,” warned the leftwing daily Efimerida Twn Syntaktwn. “Within three months, 56.4% of the measures, or 127 actions, have to be taken, of which 15 have to be enforced in October.”
In the coming weeks the hugely sensitive issues of pensions cuts, tax increases on farmers, recapitalisation of banks, privatisation of state assets and liberalisation of closed markets must all be tackled. The measures, expected to spell further hardship for the long-suffering middle class, have to be enacted before international inspectors conduct a review of the economy – key not only to unlocking €3bn in badly needed aid, but also to addressing the crucial issue of debt relief.
At 180% of national output, and growing by the day, Greek debt is by far the highest in the EU and the biggest drain on the country’s finances. “There has to be a fourth bailout in the shape of a restructuring of Greece’s debt,” the prominent economist Vicky Pryce told the Guardian. “The current third bailout is a bit of a ‘fake’ bailout as a lot of it is a sort of recycling of what should have been paid to Greece under the second bailout,” she said.
“Still, far from solving all problems, it is a framework on which to work and will encourage a more lenient approach to Greece on the investment front and in eventual QE entry.” Europe has warned openly that there can be no second chance for Athens – an exit from the eurozone will ensue if commitments are not respected. But as ministers assumed their portfolios, political commentators voiced fears over the new government’s ability to deal with the challenges ahead.