by Kostas A. Lavdas & Elizabeth H. Prodromou
February 10, 2015
Greece has a point. Question is, how best to present it. It's only a fortnight since Greece's early elections produced a new coalition government partnered by radical leftist SYRIZA and radical nationalist Independent Greeks. SYRIZA's leader and Greece's Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, campaigned on an aggressive, anti-bailout platform that resonated with an electorate fed up with a German-inspired austerity package whose extensive fiscal consolidation and more limited structural reforms have produced human misery reminiscent of the Great Depression. SYRIZA's governing partner, the Independent Greeks, ran a campaign that drew from those same wellsprings of national humiliation and popular despair, amplified by historical grievances which conjure up memories of Germany's occupation of Greece. Given Greece's governing coalition, there should be little surprise that Athens and the Troika (the European Central Bank, ECB, the European Commission, EC, and the International Monetary Fund, IMF) are heading in different directions. But Athens' high-stakes negotiation game has brought deadlock with Eurozone leaders, and given Greece's imperiled financial and humanitarian realities, all the pressure is on Athens to rapidly rethink its negotiation tactics and objectives. By hitting the reset button before the emergency meeting of Eurozone Finance Ministers that is two days away, Greece could reap significant material gains and an upgrade in the country's embattled international image.
Since its first week in office, the government in Athens made a series of moves that were ill-advised for purposes of a constructive engagement with European power-brokers in Berlin.