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Europe

Opinion: It's time to put aside politics and think about the economy

Political bickering has made it impossible for Greece to move forward. DW's Spiros Moskovou says it's time for Greek politicians to stop pushing against each other and start working together.

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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's latest tactic isn't working out as well as he might have thought. By calling a referendum, he hoped to force Greek voters to demonstrate their approval and active support of the country's bailout deal with its international creditors.

With the opposition slamming his every move and even some members of his own socialist PASOK party openly challenging his push for more austerity and reform, Papandreou decided to take it directly to the people.

But Papandreou forgot that the country he leads is not only heavily indebted but also broke. It's about economics now, not politics. Papandreou's announcement of the referendum rattled the markets as well as his European partners.

At a quickly thrown together meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of the G20 summit, the idea was rejected. Within 48 hours, Papandreou had to backpedal and cancel the referendum. Otherwise all aid for Greece would have been frozen.

Spiros Moskovou

Spiros Moskovou

Greece needs a minimum level of political consensus between the country's two major parties. Only then can the tough but necessary measures be put into action.

On Thursday, the conservative New Democracy party gave the first hint of movement in the right direction. The party's head Antonis Samaras announced his support for the bailout package hammered out at a marathon European Union summit on October 27. That package included a 50-percent write-down of Greek debt held by banks and private investors.

The markets responded positively and there was a renewed sense of hope in the capitals of Europe. Would the cradle of democracy finally see what has already taken place in modern democracies and EU members Ireland and Portugal? Would the biggest parties finally work together so that Greece can save itself?

The euphoria was a bit premature. It turned out that what Samaras actually meant was that Papandreou should step down immediately, an interim government of experts should be put into place and elections should be held within six weeks.

Papandreou, meanwhile, appears to be digging in his heels, despite the crumbling support from his own party, ahead of a vote of confidence in parliament on Friday. He hopes to emerge from the vote a strengthened leader who can then negotiate with Samaras over the formation of a coalition government.

And so the two leaders stood across from each other in parliament once again, two political matadors, proud and unrelenting and without a sliver of consensus. As if it were just a normal session of parliament, as if the future of the country and of the entire eurozone did not hang in the balance. Is what we're watching here a Greek tragedy or a Greek comedy? Probably a little of both. And the nail biting continues.

Author: Spiros Moskovou / hf
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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