Opinion: The Greek people have to choose again | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.05.2012
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Opinion: The Greek people have to choose again

Attempts to form a government in Greece have failed. Now that the parties have failed, says DW's Spiros Moskovou, it's up to the people to prevent the collapse of the country at new elections in June.

The poor Greek people have to try their hand at democracy once again. The country's political elite has once more been unable to agree on a realistic solution to the crisis which all the parties can support. The Greece's financial bankruptcy two and a half years ago has now exposed the country's political bankruptcy for all to see.

The two former major "people's parties" - the conservative Nea Dimokratia of Antonis Samaras and the socialist PASOK of Evangelos Venizelos - have driven the country into the ground, and they got their reward on May 6, when their share of the vote collapsed. They would indeed now be prepared to join a coalition to save the country, but now they haven't got a majority in parliament. But it was those two former big players which were most constructive in the recent negotiations.

Spiros Moskovou

Spiros Moskovou is the head of DW's Greek department

In their anger, the voters have strengthened the small parties, which were thus given a far more important role in forming a coalition: the right-wing Independent Greeks of Panos Kammeno, and the radical left of the populist Alexis Tsipras, which is now the second largest political force in the country.

These parties have entered the scene with a bang. Undomesticated and dazzled by the spotlights, they have immediately promised to break all the treaties which Greece has entered into. They create the illusion that it might be possible to stay in the eurozone without austerity and structural reform. These are the parties which have prevented agreement on a coalition by insisting on their maximum demands.

Just as Brussels was sending more moderate signals to Athens, and suggested that the austerity might be softened a little, the collapse of the negotiations in Athens have made the situation more complicated.

Where is Greece going? The latest opinion polls suggest that the radical left will gain votes at the next election and maybe even become the largest party. When one bears in mind that the Greek system rewards the strongest party with an extra 50 seats, then this prospect looks threatening. It would mean that the eurozone would have to deal with a left-wing coalition in Athens which would be ready to smash the internationally agreed framework for recovery.

The only hope is that turnout will be higher this time as the voters see the risks of leaving Greece ungovernable, and that the Greek people will behave more responsibly than their parties. They punished the old parties on May 6, now perhaps they will support those which admit the truth: that remaining in the eurozone and austerity politics are two sides of the same coin.

Author: Spiros Moscovou / mll
Editor: Andreas Illmer