Euro or Drachma? Greece’s Fate Rests on Sunday’s Election

Greeks are voting Sunday, June 17, in a crucial election that many — politicians, finance ministers, bankers, heads of state, most certainly Greeks — believe will determine whether or not the country will remain in the euro zone, or exit and return to using the drachma. The latter scenario (dubbed a “Grexit” by some) has been too often spoken of in apocalyptic tones ever since Greece’s economic crisis arose five years ago.

Polling is not allowed in Greece in the two weeks leading up to an election. But “secret polls” indicate that the far-left party Syriza will lose to the conservative New Democracy party, says the New Statesman. The official word is that the two parties are in the top two places with a margin of 3 percent either way. Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal cites “Greek stock market participants” regarding the “secret polls”; Weisenthal notes that

Greek betting sites have shown also a spike in bets placed on New Democracy, and this too is seen as evidence of a shift. So traders like the stability of the pro-bailout, conservative New Democracy party over the chaos of the left-wing Syriza party, and thus at least right now are speculating that the status quo wll remain.

Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, is among those who have characterized Sunday’s election as a choice between the euro and the drachma. If elected, Samaras says he will accept the bailout of billions of euros Greece received from the “troika” of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank but renegotiate the terms of the deal. Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, has said that his party intends for Greece to remain in the euro zone, but to reject the terms of the bailout that has led to the imposition of more and more, and harsher and harsher, austerity measures on ordinary Greeks.

The economic crisis has already surely changed the political landscape in Greece. In elections on May 6, New Democracy’s contender was the well-established Socialist Party, PASOK, which ended up receiving only some 13 percent of the vote (whereas it had received 40-something percent in previous elections). The extreme right-wing — neo-Nazi — party, the Golden Dawn (Χρυση Αυγη, Chrysi Avgi), gained enough votes to be able to hold seats in Greece’s Vouli or Parliament for the first time.

Friday saw huge rallies in Athens and throughout Greece ahead of the elections. Saturday will be quiet as no campaigning can occur ahead of polling at 7:00 am local time on Sunday.

That Sunday’s election has repercussions far beyond Greece’s borders is very apparent. The Greek publication Kathimerini reports that the German Financial Τimes Deutschland is urging Greeks to vote “yes” for Samaras and “no” for Tsipras. EU leaders are holding emergency talks out of fear that the election results could cause a Lehman Brothers-like run on banks. Bloomberg says that you can play an “interactive online game to create Greek scenarios includes a maze of 57 possible steps that all end badly, if in different ways.”

The mood throughout Greece has been, as emphasized in numerous media reports, weary, angry (in particular at the super-rich who continue to tend their yachts and not pay taxes), uncertain, fearful, definitely depressed. Unemployment is 22 percent and around 50 percent for 20-somethings, most of whom are having, or trying, to leave the country. Domestic violence against women is on the rise and violence against immigrants persists. Global businesses and investors are withdrawing operations.

Amid all this gloom there are quietly, stubbornly hopeful reports, of a new humanitarianism amid the crisis and of Greeks — including some of those young person people with degrees from foreign universities — “swimming against the tide” and choosing to stay in their country, “working hard with no money, but trying to be part of change” as Stephania Xydia says. Xydia has a BA from Cambridge University and a Master’s from London’s City University; she turned down an internship at the Barbican to work as the managing director of a cultural diplomacy NGO. Says 29-year-old Orestis Matsoukas, an entrepreneur, in the Guardian:

“At the moment, we don’t really see a light at the end of the tunnel. There should always be a light. Even during the [Nazi] occupation there was a light. During the [colonels'] dictatorship there was a light. Now there’s not. That’s why I’m staying here. To find a light.”

Related Care2 Coverage

Greek Right-Wing MP Eludes Arrest After Assault on Female Politicians

Bailouts For Spain, Cyprus Loom: What’s the Euro’s Fate?

Record 11% Unemployment in the Euro Zone

 

Photo by Popicinio_01

48 comments

Barbra D.
Barbra Drake4 years ago

I would just like to tell Linda R. that we in the United States already are afraid. All that is happening to the Greeks has already happened to us. It has been slow because we have a constitution that has protected us for 245 years. It started 30 years ago with President Ronald Regan. It began in the working classes and has now finally worked it's way into the middle class, where the majority of the population are. Our middle class is shrinking, our public workers are losing their jobs, and so are our private sector workers. The middle class has been under attack for 15 years. Our country is devided. Those who see the truth and will vote for Obama, and those who are managing to hang on financially and will believe the lies of Romney and his corporate backers until they also lose their comfortable lives. The rich are now trying to pervert our constitution and disenfranchise many voters. If you don't know this already than for some reason you are not receiving information from an accurate source.

Linda Rust
Past Member 4 years ago

I think we are witnessing the fate of any economy that puts itself completely in the hands of a corporate plutocratic government. Now that they realize the errors of their ways, the citizens of Greece try desperately to salvage some decent standard of living from the near (I hope) destruction of their way of life. Austerity measures in European countries are forbears of the Austerity measures the Republican corporate elites would like to enact in the U.S. Cuts to food aid for the poor, firing of public sector workers like schoolteachers, firemen, policeman, etc., are what Romney and his buddies propose to do in the U.S. Less for the average citizen, much less: GONE! un- employment benefits,healthcare benefits and any other help the average citizen might need during an economic downturn not of their making. Meanwhile, international corporate conglomerates that run the global economy, (let's quit fooling ourselves about the reality of this) keep their tax breaks,while their profits are larger than any known to the history of humankind. It didn't work there, and it won't work here. Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

Madelaine C-H
Pete Smith4 years ago

If they do leave, The whole system in Europe will collapse, leaving so may loans unpaid that even really successful countries will fall horribly into debt. This will drag down the whole global economy, yes, even you, USA! So we need to act very carefully. The decisions made now affect us all.

Madelaine C-H
Pete Smith4 years ago

If they do leave, The whole system in Europe will collapse, leaving so may loans unpaid that even really successful countries will fall horribly into debt. This will drag down the whole global economy, yes, even you, USA! So we need to act very carefully. The decisions made now affect us all.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

The Euro is a bad idea whose time has passed. If I were Greek, I'd vote to get out. Likewise were I a Brit, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, even French - anything but German. Germany's kinda like the Fed, ain't it? Or worse?

Richard B.
Richard B.4 years ago

In a way, I would like the Greeks to get out of the Euro because they would regain control over their currency and in another way, I don't want the Greeks to because the exit of Greece could well mean the collapse of the Euro and given the weakness of the US economy, its collapse too.

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders4 years ago

I just watched two prominent economists arguing about this on Fareed Zakaria. It's obvious that even the experts know we're in uncharted waters here, so why do so many Care2 readers think they have the answer?

Abbe A.
Azaima A.4 years ago

thanks

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Carole H.
Carole H.4 years ago

The only people to win out of all this chaos are 'the money men' - how can a country win when at every turn the goal posts are moved? they cut and cut and cut and then some ratings agency downgrades them and the 'markets' say hey you have not cut enough instead of the interest on your debts being for instance 5% now it's 6 or 7% until there comes a point they can never pay no matter what they do and some rich people who were already rich but had a little bet on how such and such country would fare pull some strings and manipulate the markets until guess what they win their bets and make even more money - so you destroy a few countries and their peoples on the way who cares as long as you make another billion and anyway these countries can always raise a bit more cash if they are really desparate by selling off a few choice nationally owned assets - I mean you'd even help them out and purchase them yourselves - as long as they are going cheap of course .- after all it's your God given right to make a profit - the more obscene the better -- -----
Well that is how it seems to me - am I wrong?