Monday, June 18, 2012

The Greeks Bet on Europe, and You Should Too

by Simon Serfaty and Alexis Serfaty


June 18, 2012

Amid the daily forecasts of Europe’s impending death and warnings of chaos and calamity to come, there are good reasons to be bullish about the future of the European Union.

Admittedly, these can be hard to make out, as citizens rebel against the EU as a producer of austerity and a consumer of their national identities, while pundits dismiss the very idea that national governments would cede more sovereignty to underpin the euro.

Paradoxically, Greece’s near-suicide may renew the solidarity needed for the EU to work. A large majority of European citizens still believes that however bad the EU and its single currency may be, there’s nothing better to replace either. Greek voters reached the same conclusion on Sunday, when they backed the conservative New Democracy party to form a new government in the hope it will enable them to stay in the euro area.

The vote was close, but the mandate is nonetheless clear: 71 percent of Greeks favor keeping the euro, according to a recent public opinion poll. Most, if not all, of Greece’s EU partners, including the German government, agree. The Greek vote confirms a trend: Despite the many incumbents removed from power in Europe since the financial crisis struck, no populist majority has emerged as a credible alternative to the mainstream parties. For the 27 EU members, life without or outside the union has long ceased to be an option with wide appeal.


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