Xenophobia and nationalism could be the Greek vote's biggest winners

时间:2019-10-08 责任编辑:融愎缭 来源:兴发娱乐平台 点击:266 次

There can be no winners in Europe when anti-EU populists such as and Nigel Farage think they can claim a victory, as they did when the results of the Greek referendum came out. That kind of extremist support for the no vote will probably be described as a negligible side-show by those who decided the referendum, but that view may be short-sighted. Of course, xenophobic populism wasn’t what Greeks voted in favour of – they want a break from austerity – but the reality is that, on a European scale, the collateral damage of Sunday’s vote risks being tremendous. When the EU project is seen as a failure because it is unable to produce a compromise, those who scoop up the benefit are those who would like the project to disappear altogether.

Europe must now brace itself for more turmoil, and more geopolitical weaknesses, unless cool heads can prevail in Brussels and Athens. It is very uncertain that that will happen. The referendum has strengthened the hand of the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, but it has by no means erased realities, which are that Greece has become bankrupt, that its government remains isolated in (and not only in dealing with northern countries), and that a breakup of the eurozone, as well as a full-on Greek exit from the EU, have become more of a possibility now than ever before.

Tsipras knows this is not what Greeks want, so he now has to try to build bridges with EU leaders after months of insults and disastrous brinkmanship on both sides. The resignation on Monday of his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis – possibly paving the way for smoother talks – gives strength to the theory that Tsipras bargained on a referendum as a way of giving himself a political cover for some of the concessions needed for more bailout money. After all, Tsipras triggered the snap vote just at the very moment he was starting to send out unprecedented signs of flexibility in the negotiations. How a money-for-reform deal can somehow still be presented as a constructive compromise at this point will depend on all parties involved. Calming down the rhetoric will be key.

What has happened over the past six months is a collective failure that has led to scared Greeks queuing in front of closed banks, and Europe appearing as a purely transactional, punishing entity. Nationalists and of all brands have gained considerably from this. The challenge for Tsipras and the creditors is now to transform a no to austerity into a yes for Europe. That kind of yes is what the Greeks want. And it is what the anti-EU populists don’t want.