You can’t really blame them, I suppose. Four years of miserable penury, being out of work and selling your children for food whilst generally being regarded as the lepers of Europe—what fun.
Presented with the choice of more of the same for an indeterminate period or reverting to a golden age when Greece culture and the Greek economy were the envy of the World, there was plenty of Ouzo and olives grew on trees—well what would you do? Not to mention the pleasure of waving two fingers at the Germans which, let’s be honest here, is always immensely satisfying even if it usually proves to be (almost) the last great act of defiance. At least until diffident amateurism triumphs over Teutonic efficiency—or in this case wishful thinking and the Money Fairy triumph over sound fiscal policy.
Lessons will be drawn from this Greek Tragedy/ election. The blessed St George (Osborne, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer) was busy drawing one on the radio this morning. What people should vote for—he said, speaking from Cornwall, usually an economically challenged part of the UK where coincidentally such a sound fiscal policy has allegedly transformed peoples’ lives– is a government which has a sound fiscal policy. One in which the economy was recovering, there were plenty of jobs, the possibility of pay rises were in the air and the electorate will be offered a choice between remaining in a reformed EU or committing their own version of financial suicide by leaving. Not that he put it quite like that, but we all know what he really meant. He skilfully avoided mentioning Greece at all, but then there are only one hundred pondering days left until the UK General Election and faced with possible redundancy, who can blame him for point-scoring and avoiding the question?
In the meantime, the Euro has plunged to an all-time low and Angela (Merkel, Germany’s Iron Lady) must be sorely tempted to let the effete southerners stew in their own Moussaka. That would play well with her own electorate and send a clear warning to other backsliding members of the Euro club—France, for example—that whilst, in principle, disagreeing with German fiscal policy was allowed in practice they had better do exactly what they were told and preferably, when they were told. After all, she is facing the difficult decision of when to invade Russia—no, sorry, I meant when to finally lose it with Putin and telling him to stuff his gas supply.
In a way, this might play to Dave’s (UK’s Prime Minister Cameron) and St George’s advantage. They—assuming they form the next UK government—will be faced with the difficult task of convincing the British electorate that a fudged reform of the EU is actually a triumph for British diplomacy. Presented with the choice between an undeniably relatively successful UK economy, a UK government which is pressing for EU fiscal reform and a Greek populist nutter who thinks that he can renege on his debts and still remain a member of the club, Merkel might just opt for real reform. I’m not holding my breath mind, but with the Bundesbank—sorry, another slip, I meant the European Central Bank-now set on the path of Quantitative Easing, aka printing more money, injecting it into the economy and hoping for the best—the temptation to wave goodbye to the Greeks must be quite strong. It would also serve as a warning to others—if you read that last statement in a German accent you’ll see where I’m coming from…