Greece’s Calculations and Miscalculations

Excerpt from “A Deal That Preserves Greece’s Place in Eurozone, and Fiscal Restraints” by Andrew Higgins in The New York Times, February 21, 2015

…Guntram Wolff, director of Bruegel, a research group in Brussels, said Syriza had severely miscalculated from the start by taking a “confrontational approach” in a button-down European Union system that embraces quiet consensus-building and shuns emotional polemics.

But its biggest mistake, Mr. Wolff said, “was to think that all of southern Europe would align behind Greece” against what Athens has presented as German intransigence in defense of austerity for ideological reasons, or simply out of spite.

Syriza’s belief that Spain, Portugal and Italy would rally to its anti-austerity crusade was fed in part by the rapturous reception Mr. Tsipras and his lieutenants received from like-minded anti-establishment parties ahead of Greece’s election in January.

“A wind of change is blowing in Europe,” Pablo Iglesias, leader of Spain’s upstart Podemos party, told a Syriza pre-election rally in Athens. “The name of that change in Greece is Syriza, and the name of the change in Spain will be Podemos.”

But the surging fortunes of populist parties, left and right, across Europe only made sitting leaders more wary of Syriza and its policies, even those tired of Brussels-mandated budget cuts.


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