Every time the going gets tough the same discussion begins all over again: “Maybe it’s not working out. Perhaps it would be better to take the money Schaeuble is giving us and return to the drachma.” But now it’s not only truly desperate Greeks joining the discussion, but also supposedly well-informed people who have not been affected by the crisis to the extent that some of their fellow citizens have.
One the one hand it makes sense. We have been aboard a rubber dinghy navigating through extreme conditions for the last six years. We are all waiting to hear something final from the loudspeakers, something that will put an end to our agony, something along the lines of “Just be patient for a little bit longer. The boat will reach a safe haven in six months.” But the loudspeakers are either silent or lying. We are reaching the point described by a friend who once witnessed an old lady on a caique during a storm crossing herself and shouting, “Let’s drown so we can be saved!”
Some cynics and lovers of conspiracy theories have actually developed a theory about this. They believe that the current coalition government will lead the country to a dead end with our partners and lenders and will subsequently turn around and say to the people: “You gave us a mandate for a honorable compromise, but we came up against a wall. We can’t go on. We are asking for a mandate to proceed with a real rupture, in other words to exit the eurozone.” Personally, I always reject such theories, because while tempting, they are very rarely consistent with reality. History is written with mistakes and accidents, and rarely follows a secret plan or the specifications of a large-scale conspiracy.
But we need to be very careful. The danger of public opinion turning against Europe and the euro is clearly visible. If any of the scenarios regarding a new European Union border at the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are activated, this will further add to the sense of being cut off from the rest of the bloc.
We are lacking the kind of robust leadership needed at this point, and, if anti-European sentiment flares up again – this time coupled with a sense of despair – it’s easy to envision a large portion of the population coming under the spell of a new chimera, similar to those that led the country to disaster in the past. Mistakes are easy when an entire country is so tired and so disappointed.
In the meantime, however, we are facing the worst-case scenario: the euro straitjacket with a completely drachma-esque government and approach to the real economy. And this leads even the most sensible people who could never imagine Greece exiting the EU to wonder, “Where are we going?”