OPINION

Reason and fear

Greece is caught up in a dead end. No one really likes the idea of a snap election.

Prime Minister George Papandreou has heard the warnings from foreign officials and he?s very aware of the fact that the debt-wracked country could go bust in the runup to the elections.

Regardless of what he may say in public, Antonis Samaras, the leader of the conservative main opposition New Democracy party, is equally aware of the country?s dismal fiscal condition, as well as the intentions of Greece?s European Union counterparts. Ideally, Samaras would want to see the Socialists shoulder most of the burden before he can lead New Democracy back to power.

So what?s the problem?

It?s far from certain that this government and PASOK?s cabinet group are in a position to meet the requirements of the nation?s international creditors. Among most of the Socialists? old guard, the idea of a single civil servant being fired is a nonstarter. Similarly, a large number of deputies would rather quit politics than vote for the measures demanded by the troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

If the Papandreou government were to find itself split and without a strong parliamentary majority, it would be forced to decide between one of just two paths: It would either have to call early elections with empty coffers or look for areas of consensus with New Democracy and other parties.

If Greece were to hold elections without having secured the sixth tranche of the bailout loan, the state would barely be able to pay public sector salaries and pensions.

Moreover, the country is running the clear risk of being kicked out of the common currency area by the eurozone?s core countries.

This is a very crucial turning point for Greece. It?s one thing to hold national elections after having secured funding for the next three years, but it?s quite another to call snap polls with the July Eurogroup agreement still up in the air.

This mix of reason and fear will hopefully push the two political rivals, Papandreou and Samaras, onto a path of responsibility and consensus. Otherwise the country runs the risk of running out of cash.