A terrible combination of pigheadedness, inadequacy and imprudence is threatening to derail the country. The stubbornness comes from the German finance minister and other like-minded policymakers who see Greece as a “special case” and afford it a lot less tolerance than they show to other countries making much slower progress in critical areas. Portugal, for example, has not implemented more cutbacks or reforms than Greece yet its spreads are performing much better than Greece’s. Germany, according to economist Peter Bofinger, still lags way behind Greece in liberalizing so-called closed-shop professions and labor reform. Nevertheless, Wolfgang Schaeuble insists on his puritanical approach to Greece and even the chancellor appears unable to sway him.
The inadequacy comes from the Greek government, which was hasty in underestimating the risks from the markets, abandoned the reform effort and went ahead with decisions that shook international confidence in the country. The government has always been torn, like the residents of an apartment block where the people on the ground floor are working for something entirely different than those on the first. It proved unable to rein in its worst self and ended up in a vicious cycle.
The imprudence is being displayed by the main opposition party, which has ensnared the country in political uncertainty even though it does not have any real plan of its own to speak of. It believes that the negotiations with the troika can be treated like a sit-in at a university, blackmailing the lenders into giving it what it wants over the country’s debt and continued funding. There is no excuse for ignorance at this point.
There are so many economic, social and, of course, geopolitical factors threatening Greece and these cannot be left in the hands of inexperienced politicians. It is one thing to be a mover and shaker on the domestic stage and quite another to play the country on the international chessboard.
Everyone needs to get serious. Greece does not deserve to become a failed state that can boast nothing but sunny skies and pretty beaches. Neither should it be allowed to become like Ukraine, where things are run by powerful lobbies that solve their differences with guns and other such methods.
Germany is not known for its geopolitical wisdom and has never managed its elevated position with foresight and vision. Anything but. In Greece, meanwhile, the government has shown that it can run the gauntlet and it has done a lot to keep the country on its feet, yet it has failed to find a cure for the turpitude and lack of judgment that afflicts parts of it. The opposition, on the other hand, has become enchanted by the lights of power, ignorant to the fact that these might be the lights of the train that will smash into it if it is elected to power.
The combination of all these factors is anything but good, and it does nothing to placate the people, who are scared and distrustful. The worst thing is that it is the people who will end up paying for this pigheadedness, inadequacy and imprudence.