Finance

Kevin Ovenden in Greece: Europe’s ‘leaders’ have learnt nothing

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On Wednesday of last week, the geniuses of the EU thought they could force a confrontation which would fatally weaken the Syriza government. Instead they got a full-scale revolt and a resurgence of the left. John Passant reposts Kevin Ovenden reporting from Greece.

THE SPLENDID fellows who run the eurozone and the EU have learnt nothing from the Greek referendum. I include Hollande, Renzi and others who are reportedly for a less confrontational line.

All the coverage is about contagion, hard and soft negotiating positions, squeezing the poor in Greece a bit longer to see if Tsipras cracks or the mood may be turned against him and so on. These are important considerations. Some of the coverage is useful.

But missing is something fundamental.

On Wednesday of last week, they estimated they could force a confrontation which would fatally weaken the Syriza government.

Instead, they triggered – for it palpably grew from Wednesday night onwards – a social movement of revolt not seen for two years since the ERT occupation and solidarity movement forced the governing coalition to split. And bigger than that movement. They did so in a Greek political system experiencing its worst breakdown since 1965

Last week’s revolt was with this government, rallied by the prime minister, and against the Troika and memorandums.

The result of the little game by the geniuses who run the EU was to further shatter New Democracy, the party of big business.

The left has hegemony in Greek society for the first time since 1944.

CDU MPs sitting on their backsides have no traction in Greece. Finnish racist populists don’t. The Danish hard right doesn’t.They need a powerful, credible political force in and of Greece to undermine the government. They just hobbled it.

And under these circumstances, they make a second push as if they were playing poker with matchstick stakes?

I think they have no idea at all just how dangerous a situation this is for them.

Not one of them has had to fight a major confrontation — I mean a really big one.

As for Merkel, the SPD made the key welfare and wage cuts before she came in. Helmut Kohl had ensured unification on an Ordoliberal, right wing basis. The euro was already established on terms which favoured German exports. All she had to do was appear matronly and not muck it up.

Now she’s called upon to do something. And paralysis.

This German-led EU is not turning out to be as powerful as it was projected to be.

You can follow John on Twitter @JohnPassant.

This story was originally published on John's blog enpassant.com.au and has been republished with permission.

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