International / Let's talk about Europe

The tragedy continues

George Papandreou, current Greek Prime minister

Coup de theatre in the Union! While the latest Eurozone summit seemed to find a solution the Greek crisis, all of a sudden George Papandreou, the Prime minister, wishes to organize a referendum and consult Greek people to valid (or not) the austerity plan agreement aimed to make the finances of the country healthier for once. This referendum should be held for the beginning of 2012 (or earlier) and nobody can predict the outcome.

Everybody seems to be very surprised and unprepared to this announce, as the outgoing Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, mentioning the irresponsibility of the PASOK leader. As far as the markets are concerned, they clearly freaked out, losing some stock-exchanges values.

The Greek Prime minister’s unexpected announcement is hard to understand insofar as such a hypothesis has not been taken into account during the Eurozone summit of last October. What is more and regarding to the context, it is highly probable the Papandreou’s compatriots might take the most of the situation to reject this snatched agreement, at risk the Euro takes a dive, once again.

All the more so as in political terms, a referendum is not necessarily advantageous for the socialist leader, a very unpopular leader. In case of negative outcome, George Papandreou would be weakened and forced to new elections which make the come-back of Conservatives to power easier and which the first decision will be to break all the concluded deals so far.

Nonetheless, the Papandreou’s decision might be considered as a kind of political strategy. Acting like that, the PASOK leader presents the Greeks with a fait accompli, applying the TINA logic. In other words, accepting these sacrifices to save the Greek economy and keep playing to the older children’s playground or rejecting the agreement and seeing the situation getting worse. It’s a cornelian choice the Greeks are going to make, a choice which must be made seriously.

This is the gamble of Papandreou who hopes to be legitimized and reinforced by this referendum. Some welcome his courage, a double-edged courage in spite of all. Because if the Greeks are consulted and have the last word, nobody cannot predict its decision and this referendum might be an opportunity to sanction Papandreou for people.

So, the PASOK leader will have to convince his compatriots and ensure his European partners both. In the same time, Papandreou will have to defend the deal concluded with the Eurozone other Member-States obstinately, insisting on the capital necessity for Greece to stay inside.

The Greek tragedy continues.