OPINION

Four crucial months

The coming months will be crucial, perhaps even decisive, for the country?s future. The political class knows, or at least it should know, that is when it will be decided whether Greece will remain in the euro area. Decisions made then will also shape Greek people?s living standards in the years to come and, most probably, the context for a new political environment. All these things are pretty much clear to most people.

The aforementioned developments are of course connected to the extremely tough challenge of introducing the painful austerity measures demanded by our foreign lenders. The package sees 11.5 billion euros in cuts aimed at bringing the deficit under 3 percent by 2014, as well as at creating a primary surplus and at ensuring debt sustainability by 2020. To be sure, putting the above package to work means overcoming a number of obstacles.

The details of the package need to be approved by the troika of foreign creditors, that is the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But even this may not suffice given the current instability in the eurozone and skepticism toward Greece in Berlin and other European capitals.

Closer to home, the new austerity cuts are expected to test the strength of the Greek administration, the solidarity of the coalition partners, and the determination of government deputies to shoulder the cost of keeping the nation within the eurozone.

The fate of the austerity package will not just determine Greece?s future in the euro and expectations for a relatively decent standard of living; it will also determine the fate of the nation?s political class, as developments might cause politicians to defect from their parties, and may even cause parties to break up — regardless whether we manage to stay in the euro or not.

The next four months will also be crucial for the eurozone. The euro is under pressure, officials are faced with unprecedented problems, the welfare state is under great strain, a lot of interests are at stake, and centrifugal forces are challenging the interdependence of EU partners. Political stability can no longer be taken for granted. The threat of social turbulence is on the rise.

No one can be sure about where all this will take us. The only certainty is that Greeks and Europeans are in for four very crucial months.