Europe’s Monetary (Dis)Union
Europe's Progress Toward Economic Integration
New Opportunities and New Challenges
Euro Fantasies: Common Currency as Panacea
The Case for EMU: More than Money
EMU and International Conflict
The Dollar and the Euro
The Degeneration of EMU
The Future of the Euro
Why the Greek Crisis Will Not Ruin Europe’s Monetary Union
The Failure of the Euro
The Little Currency That Couldn’t
The Crisis of Europe
How the Union Came Together and Why It’s Falling Apart
Can Europe’s Divided House Stand?
Separating Fiscal and Monetary Union
Saving the Euro Will Mean Worse Trouble for Europe
Charting the Disastrous Choices Ahead
Can the Eurozone Be Saved?
Yes, but the EU Summit Was Too Little, Too Late
How to Save the Euro -- and the EU
Reading Keynes in Brussels
Why Only Germany Can Fix the Euro
Reading Kindleberger in Berlin
The Myth of German Hegemony
Why Berlin Can't Save Europe Alone
Europe's Optional Catastrophe
The Fate of the Monetary Union Lies in Germany’s Hands
Why the Euro Will Survive
Completing the Continent’s Half-Built House
Avoiding the Next Eurozone Crisis
How to Build an EU that Works
Europe After the Crisis
How to Sustain a Common Currency
Europe's New Normal
It's Here, It's Unclear, Get Used to It
So Long, Austerity?
Syriza's Victory and the Future of the Eurozone
Austerity vs. Democracy in Greece
Europe Crosses the Rubicon
Why Greece Will Cave—and How
Alexis Tsipras and the Debt Negotiations
Why Greece and Europe Will Still Stay Attached
How to Contain Athens' Economic Problems
A Pain in the Athens
Why Greece Isn't to Blame for the Crisis
The Agreekment That Could Break Europe
Euroskeptics, Eurocritics, and Life After the Bailout
It may be odd to use a Roman metaphor to describe a Greek political event, but in this case, it’s apt. Just as Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river because he could, in spite of the warnings of the Roman Senate not to, so Alex Tsipras, leader of the anti-austerity party, Syriza, has decided to try to end austerity in Greece, in spite of Europe’s leaders saying he shouldn’t. Whether Tsipras will succeed is still unclear, but whatever happens, his victory represents a crucial turning point for Europe—a signal that time has run out on austerity policies.
A “Tsipras” had to happen somewhere eventually, because there’s only so long you can ask people to vote for impoverishment today based on promises of a better tomorrow that never arrives. If voting for impoverishment brings only more impoverishment, eventually people will stop voting for it—and the timing of “eventually” will depend on when people’s assets run out. In the Greek case, backers of the incumbent New Democracy party and its austerity policies constitute that quarter of the electorate who still have assets (pensions, paper, and portfolios) after five years of depression and who want to preserve what they have. The 36 percent that voted for Syriza were the young, the asset-less, and the unemployed—people who either lost what they once had or never had much to begin with. Greece’s 1.9 percent of growth last year means essentially nothing to a society that has lost nearly 30 percent of GDP in a little over half a decade; on the current course, it would take, by latest estimates, two generations for the country to get back above water.
Syriza’s victory presents two lessons for the rest of Europe. First, no one votes for a 15-year-long recession. Second, you can’t run a gold standard in a democracy. Either the gold standard goes, or democracy goes, and that is the choice Europe may face sooner than it thinks.
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