European press: Hollow victory in Greece
- 18 June 2012
- From the section Europe
Commentators in Europe are quick to warn against euphoria after the Greek general election was narrowly won by New Democracy, a centre-right party that supports the country's international bailout.
There is a feeling that the results allowed European capitals "to breathe a sigh of relief"; but some analysts predict lengthy coalition talks in Athens and difficult negotiations with the country's creditors.
Others argue that the damage has already been done, and that despite the election result, Greece is well on its way out of the eurozone.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The election result does not change the fact that Greece still has 327bn euros of debt.
The victory of the pro-austerity New Democracy party can give Greece only a short breather... A New Democracy-Pasok coalition might be popular with Greece's creditors at the EU and IMF, but the majority of Greeks will likely want to show them the door as soon as possible.
The Greek election winner, Antonis Samaras, has nothing to celebrate... Under immense pressure of time, he has to form a government that faces impossible challenges... The sad truth is that the Greeks, who only yesterday rebelled against the cuts imposed by Europe in a desperate show of pride, are today waking up as beggars.
Never before have the Greeks had such a small chance of voting for what they really want. The wafer-thin victory of the New Democracy party is by no means a blank cheque. Rather, the election system gives the illusion of a strength which the conservatives do not have.
The outcome of the Greek elections allows European capitals to breathe a sigh of relief.
Nothing is settled yet for Antonis Samaras who, just like after the first vote on 6 May, must find allies to realise his dream of becoming prime minister.
The New Democracy victory cannot be viewed as an enthusiastic "yes" to austerity.
The close result demonstrates that a large majority of Greeks continue to be opposed to the pursuit of drastic austerity policies... Syriza has not lost everything... [The far-left party's leader] Alexis Tsipras is now in the best position to benefit from the eventual failure of the New Democracy-Pasok coalition - a fact that Greece's creditors must always keep in mind.
It is unclear what has changed - there's no majority, no platform for stable government, still less any prospect of early recovery... Europe's north will soon have to choose between renegotiating so the oxygen of liquidity can flow on less ruinous terms, or else standing back and watching the Greek banks go bust with a bang.
The cultural contradictions between a sizable part of Greece and the EU cannot simply be hidden under the rug. The new Greek government will have to convince those citizens that sticking broadly to the terms of the lending agreement leads to a better future. On the other hand, the EU has to realise that it needs to loosen the austerity conditions of the lending agreement and offer Greece space for economic growth and job creation.
The prospect of lengthy coalition talks and then further negotiations between a potentially fragile government and Greece's creditors will bring more of the uncertainty that has roiled financial markets in recent weeks, spreading sovereign debt crisis contagion to the much bigger economies of Spain and Italy.
The Daily Telegraph
The exact circumstances and timing of Greece's ejection from monetary union no longer have any systemic importance for global finance. The damage has already been done. The precedent of EMU break-up is by now priced into the credit markets. Formalising it changes little.
The good news is that the euro is not plunged beneath the waters of Piraeus today. The bad news is that there is nothing to prevent the single currency from total collapse in a few weeks or months.
Let's look at the facts: Greece is like a family business ruined by mistakes that we cannot but help even though it continues to lose money every month that passes.
The main loser in the Greek election is the club of the enemies of the euro... something has failed more than Europeanism - anti-Europeanism.... If during this cruel crisis... the single currency displays only brutal architectural problems, but is alive, this means that it is much stronger than expected.
Samaras's victory clarifies the future of Greece and hence that of the euro and Europe… It now remains to see how Europe and Germany will take advantage of the Greek vote to strengthen the euro, to pull it out of the storm in which it currently is, and establish policies that will allow a light to be seen at the end of the tunnel.
We have in fact returned to where we were three months ago and wasted everybody's time, since the only thing that has happened during this period is that the situation has worsened, especially for countries like Spain or Italy. We urgently need to settle the Greece debate and focus on real European policies that will take into account that nothing essential for the future of the euro and the Union itself has yet been gained.
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