Greek Elections: A Referendum on the Euro?

Joanna Kakissis, Time, 15.06.2012

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Greeks go to the polls on Sunday in a closely watched election that could send tremors through the euro zone — and the global economy. Many are framing the election as a referendum on the euro, the coveted currency of 17 European nations, including Greece. Others say it’s a choice between hope for an alternative to the country’s painful austerity measures and fear that such an alternative will force Greece into a devalued life with its previous currency, the drachma. […]

Indeed, Greece has run out of time. The country could go broke in a month if its troika of lenders — the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — decide to pull the plug on billions in international bailout loans. That could happen if there’s a standoff between the next Greek government and European leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel who insist that Greece must stick to the original terms of the bailout loan. “There is an overall concern in Europe as to whether the country is going to be able to fulfill its obligations,” says Janis A. Emmanouilidis, an analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels. “There is a feeling of suspicion because some political leaders are telling Greeks that an in-depth renegotiation of the bailout agreement is possible. But that’s not how policymakers here see it.”

Emmanoulidis singles out Greece’s rising leftist, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza party, as the politician who most worries European leaders. Before the country’s May 6 elections, Syriza was a motley coalition of socialists, communists and Trotskyites who held just a fraction of seats in parliament. The party was best known for anti-austerity protests as its members shouted down pro-bailout politicians in parliament. Older lawmakers from established parties dismissed Tsipras, who’s 37 but looks young enough to be a college student, as a young punk who talked out of turn. […]

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