Greece facing new elections
After the failed presidential election at the end of December, the Greeks will go to the polls on January 25 to elect a new parliament. If the left alliance Syriza emerges victorious Greece could end up leaving the Eurozone and plunge the EU into a profound crisis, some commentators fear. Others see this scenario as panic-mongering and say the time has come to let the Greeks decide the fate of their country.
Greek crisis scares Europe again
If after the early parliamentary elections on January 25 in Greece the left-wing Syriza party forms the government this could trigger the return of the crisis in the EU, news magazine Newsweek Polska fears: "If Syriza comes to power the government will try to renegotiate the bailout packages. But the EU troika will likely reject the idea of freezing part of the new debt because that would mean that Portugal and Ireland, which also received help from the EU and the IMF, could make similar demands. Moreover the austerity policy is one of Merkel's key measures over which she is always fighting with France. ... If the Greeks can't reach an agreement with the troika the financial aid they receive may be cut off. That would effectively mean bankruptcy for the country and ultimately its exit from the Eurozone. And that in turn would provoke a crisis in the Eurozone. Most of the EU's economies have already been on the brink of recession for years."
Greek politics destabilising the entire EU
The political crisis in Greece could quickly turn into a threat for the mainstays of the EU, former German foreign minister and Green politician Joschka Fischer warns in the left-liberal daily El País: "The election result in Athens could fuel panic in financial markets, causing a crisis that would threaten to spill over into Italy, the Eurozone's third-largest economy, and, with some delay, France, the second largest. ... After all, in Italy, too, the signs point to a coming storm - one bearing down not only on austerity, but also increasingly on the euro itself. And after the storm hits Italy, France could be next. The conflict over austerity has become politically explosive because it is becoming a conflict between Germany and Italy - and, worse, between Germany and France, the tandem that drove European integration for six decades. And this is happening at a time when anti-European, nationalist forces are establishing themselves in Germany's national and state parliaments - and on the streets - thereby substantially reduce Chancellor Angela Merkel's room for compromise."
Survival instinct could save Greece
Ultimately it's up to the Greeks to create stability in their country, the conservative daily Kathimerini writes: "Governing Greece is an incredibly complex and dangerous task. The crisis devours parties and leaders. Our country faces huge dilemmas that will require quick and bold answers. ... An important new agreement with our [European] partners will be necessary, and only a government with broad-based support will be in a position to negotiate one. ... The fact is, however, that the Greeks have a strong survival instinct, and they may be able to push through something that looks impossible today: a national consensus [between the political parties] that will prevent anyone from experimenting with the fate of our country without appropriate checks and balances."
Don't interfere with Greek elections
Leading politicians of the left-wing Syriza party want to water down the austerity policy if they win the parliamentary elections. European politicians in turn threaten to exclude Greece from the Eurozone. But no one may deny Greece the right to a free election, columnist Jakob Augstein demands on news portal Spiegel Online: "Elections distinguish democracy from dictatorship. The West is proud of this. Unless, that is, the people threaten to vote for the left. Then our state news programmes start denouncing Greek democracy. ... So democracy is clearly something you have to pay for. And the Greeks are broke so they should kindly simply refrain from voting. What a cheek! On the contrary, Greece could be a symbol of hope in Europe. In the euro crisis democracy has taken on an authoritarian character. ... Democracy has degenerated into a dictatorship of experts by experts for experts."