The worst has been staved off – for now

Following the vote that gave victory to the “pro-memorandum” party, the European press breathes a sigh of relief: the concept of a Greece exit from the eurozone seems to have been ruled out for the moment. But the crisis in the single currency is far from having run its course.

Published on 18 June 2012 at 15:35

For the Jornal de Negócios, the Greek elections have added to “Europe’s despair”, since the positions of the major parties following the vote seem irreconcilable, to the point that “new elections cannot be ruled out.” Thus, “the more time passes without being able to overcome the crisis the monetary union is mired in, the greater the chances of ending up in a traumatic situation,” writes the Portuguese business daily —


The reality and the solution lie somewhere between what the Greeks are defending and what the Germans are sticking to. But a solution to the crisis that would respect European values no longer seems feasible. Europe is split between societies that have “good” values – the northern countries – and those with “bad” values, or the southern countries. Seen this way, there is no technical solution for salvaging the European project.

On the German side, the Frankfurter Rundschauregrets that the Greeks have still not had the choice to decide their own fate. During the campaign, neither the Greek political parties nor the EU have in effect dared to tell citizens the price they would have to pay for the choice they would make —


The winner of the Greek elections, Antonis Samaras, has nothing to celebrate. He has very little time to form a government that will have to tackle the impossible. Already in June the Greek state will have to find billions of euros to pay salaries and pensions, while later, in August, international creditors will want to see some money paid back. The sad truth is that the Greeks, who yesterday rose up in desperate pride against the diktat of austerity from Europe, have woken up this morning as beggars. […] The EU will give them very little room to manoeuvre in. And the great opportunity in these elections has been missed: the chance to get political legitimacy for the direction that Greece will take in the debt crisis.

“Greece clings on to the euro; Spain can breathe out”, headlines La Vanguardia. Writing in the Barcelona daily, columnist Enric Juliana notes that —


… the underlying logic of the European power system – a soft and strange empire with its capital in Berlin – has emerged. […] In elections that challenge the traditional concept of national sovereignty, Greek society has voted for more sacrifices – without letting go of its anger. […] The sighs of relief last night were especially deep in Spain and Italy, the two countries teetering nearest the edge of the public debt crater. This week, two factors that should bolster stability will be announced: Greece’s vote in favour of the euro, and the publication of external audits of the Spanish banks. Together with the decisions of the ECB to buy up Spanish and Italian debts, they could contribute to a substantial reduction of the uncertainty.

“The message coming in from Athens, like that sent by Dublin [in the May 31 referendum on the fiscal pact], has lit a beacon of hope in the great debate on the opposition between democracy and the markets that serves as background to the European convulsions,” writes La Repubblica. Leading with the headline “Greece will remain in the euro”, the Rome newspaper adds:


After having witnessed the exponential growth of populist and nationalist impulses fuelled by the economic crisis, Europe may begin to hope that democracy can come up with answers to complex and difficult challenges such as those posed by sovereign debt. Faced with the sirens of populism and anger, the Greeks have chosen the most difficult path. It is, though, their only hope for a different and better future – and it was not a foregone conclusion that they would choose it, especially since a large part of the global financial establishment had bet on a different and “easier” solution, speculating on the possible spread of the contagion to Spain and Italy that a Greek exit from the euro would have sparked. […] The only real danger that may come from the vote in Greece is that Berlin may be persuaded that yet another emergency is over and that it can still win some time. But time has run out. Yesterday, it was the Greek voters who told them so. Today, it is the leaders of G20, led by the U.S., who will get that message across. And at the June 28 summit it will be the turn of the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, the Italian leader, Mario Monti, and French President François Hollande to bear the message to the Chancellor. That will not be easy, but they cannot afford to fail.

“The Greek election results have again exposed a profound division” confirms Koen Vidal, editor-in-chief of the international news at De Morgen. Vidal adds that hardly had the voting ended before investors were beginning to speculate on new elections —


Perhaps one of the biggest problems of the Greek crisis is that it is taking place in an explosive climate of confrontation, which has many fearing that tensions and violence will break out between the Greeks themselves. […] But it is also the antagonism between Greece and the rest of Europe that is painful. […] This atmosphere of opposition and tension results in an emotional climate in which politicians, investors and citizens are easily tempted to stupid acts. […] To solve this crisis, this atmosphere of confrontation must come to an end, and cool down. This, though, won’t be easy.

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Voxeurop needs you. Join our community!

On the same topic