Greek election: disaster averted?

17 June 2012

There must be a collective sigh of relief in the European capitals tonight, as the Greek electorate voted for the pro-austerity parties: Nea Demokratia and PASOK together should be able to form a government with a majority, if they can come to an agreement. Never has there been an election in a European country in recent times that attracted so much attention, and intervention, some veiled, some more blatant, from the outside, as this Greek election. The choices were very stark for the Greeks: either accept the austerity measures and increase the likelihood of remaining within the eurozone, or to tear up the agreement with the troika of the EU, the ECB and the IMF which probably would have led to the exit of Greece from the single currency. The much-discussed and much-feared victory for the anti-austerity Syriza party did not materialize. A victory for Syriza would have resulted in confusion, or more likely in chaos, in the markets, and a huge headache for the European leaders.

The election result may have averted an immediate crisis, but it does not solve the current crisis on its own, or guarantee that Greece will remain within the eurozone in the medium term. Can a government be formed in Greece, and can it deliver what is asked of the country by the troika, while retaining the support of the Greek people? Tough times are ahead for Greece, and uncertain times ahead for Europe as a whole.