The Greeks have elected a new government that many news reports paint as distinctly Marxist. That would be a big deal normally. However, the implications of the new Syriza government’s threat to Greek debt repayment, the Euro and the rise of extreme politics in Europe is over shadowing concern about the return of the Communists.
What is striking about the elections is the number of the questions coming out the Greek anti-austerity party’s victory.
The first relates to how radical this new government really is? Does the Marxist pedigree of its leaders or of extreme politics of factions in the party mean Syriza may not be ready to compromise? Is the anger in Greece too high to allow compromise?
Are assessments such as the Guardian’s that the election “destroyed the post-recessionary political norms and assumptions of Greece and shaken those of the European Union to the core as well” too extreme?
How afraid are the mainstream parties in Europe of the formerly fringe parties rising up in other countries including larger countries such as France? How will they combat these parties? Concessions or a hard line?
Can Germany back down on any of its cherished austerity dictates to Greece?
Is an agreement between Greece and its main opponent Germany possible?
Have the hidden risks of Greek default and an exit from the Euro been minimized by the actions of the last two years as many suggest or or are there Lehman Brothers style hidden consequences that are being overlooked? Can the new bond buying of the European Central Bank provide cover for a compromise?
Important dates for this saga are the European summit on February 12 and February 28 when the current Greek bailout terms expire.