On Sunday, June 17, Greeks will vote for the second time in about a month.
The last national election results seemed almost humorously irrational to the outside world; for example, putting both socialists and neo-Nazis into parliamentary seats. It wasn’t, of course, either funny or irrational from the perspective of the Greek people, who felt themselves lied to by their own political and business leaders and by global financial interests, leaving them with a burning anger and the unpaid bill for quite a spending party.
After the May elections, no party could form a government, so the nation will go to the polls again.
But there’s no laughing this time around. Not anywhere.
The stakes are quite serious, indeed. Greeks must decide whether they’ll stay in the Eurozone and, if so, who will bear the burden. Markets are trembling and tough talk from some quarters, especially among Europe’s so-called leaders, has done nothing of benefit to anyone. Financial analysts, governments and politicians everywhere are watching closely what the Greek people will decide about their future – stay or go, accept Eurozone-mandated austerity measures, radically change the nature of Greek social programs. In any case, there will be worldwide ripple effects, in addition to perhaps seismic changes within Greece itself.
Austria’s foreign minister, Maria Fekter, put the question with characteristic starkness and gratuitous paternalism, what some see as a direct threat: “Greece will not receive any more economic aid if the election on 17 June results in a government that refuses to keep to the terms of the memorandum [prior agreement about bailout conditions].”
Will Greeks express a clear direction? Will they start the domino-like disintegration of the Euro? Will they provide an example other European countries will follow?
Sunday’s election in the birthplace of democracy will tell.