OPINION

How will it all end up?

There is one crucial question and anyone who can answer it can also predict developments in this country: When will Greece and a restructuring of its debt stop posing a threat to German and French banks as well as the international banking system in general? When will Berlin be able to say, ?OK, now even if you give your bonds a haircut of 40 percent we don?t mind; we?re prepared and protected.? It is obvious that they are not ready now and are battling tooth and nail to delay that day. Germany, as well as our other main creditors, would like to see this ?event? take place in a completely organized manner and under controlled conditions. But two more questions arise at this point: How long will they put up with us behaving as though we don?t know we?re bankrupt? And how long will the Greek government last?

The first danger is clear. Greece has missed its revenue targets, there has been little done to cut public spending and reforms have either been shelved or are still on paper. If the government of George Papandreou continues to function as it has in the past few weeks, this means that by May we will be looking at a red card from the troika. The troika?s people are waiting around the corner after being castigated by Athens over their statements about privatizations, while they feel that the number of ministers with whom they can speak the same language has been dramatically reduced. From four-and-a-half, they are now, at best, two-and-a-bit.

Papandreou tells his closest associates that he recognizes the problem and knows that he needs a tightly knit government to implement the memorandum. But he has very little time in which to make this happen.

For argument?s sake, let?s say that the troika continues to tolerate us for a while because it is afraid of chaos breaking out in Greece. Will we avoid chaos or will we bring it on by pushing developments and canceling the plans of our lenders? Over the next few weeks this will be determined by whether Papandreou succumbs to the old deep PASOK that will bare its teeth at him over every front, from privatizations to the closure of schools. The battle promises to be tough and the ?deep? PASOK will have a lot of allies on the left, in the rhetoric of part of New Democracy and in the voices of populism that want nothing to change. The outcome of the battle may ultimately determine whether restructuring will happen officially and according to a plan, or whether we do it in a state of anarchy that will send shock waves through the political world and society.