Greeks, Soon-To-Be-Former French President Calling Angela Merkel’s Bluff

This holiday season, take heart that Europe is more dysfunctional than your family.
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Dead men walking. By Αλέξης Τσίπρας Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας from Greece (_DSC7946) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dead men walking. By Αλέξης Τσίπρας Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας from Greece (_DSC7946) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

With all of the ascendant right-wing populism this days, it’s easy to forget that the first successful European populists were of the far left: the former communists and Che Guevara cosplay enthusiasts of Greece’s Syriza, who have governed the Cradle of Democracy for almost two years now. Perhaps reassuringly for the rest of us, they’ve played ball, by which we mean: They’ve done everything Tante Angie have told them to do. As it turns out, this hasn’t really be good for anyone: It certainly hasn’t helped Greece’s economy or Syriza’s electoral prospects. For that matter, it hasn’t buoyed Angie’s, either. So with an unexpected extra $600 million lying around, Greek’s government’s going to spend it no matter what she or its creditors have to say. They’re pretty sure it’ll all work out in the end. And if it doesn’t, well, it’ll be someone else’s problem.

"I don't think this is a big issue. We have bigger fish to fry," he told Reuters, a day after euro zone lenders put a short-term debt relief deal for Greece on hold in response to Athens' proposal for the one-off payout.

Speaking in Berlin, Tsakalotos said Europe needed to show it could solve its own problems in order to restore confidence among working-class people after populist gains in a series of European elections, the Brexit vote and the Italian referendum.

And since, come May, this stuff won’t be his problem anymore, either, French President François Hollande thought he'd weigh in on his fellow leftists’ behalf.

European lenders should reinstate debt relief for Greece and give it leeway to make a Christmas payout to pensioners, France said on Thursday, exposing divisions within the euro zone over how its most indebted state should manage its finances….

Speaking in Brussels ahead of an EU summit, French President Francois Hollande said the EU should respect the euro zone finance ministers' decision to offer debt relief, which his Finance Minister Michel Sapin said only the same group could overturn.

Greek Finance Minister defends one-off bonus, sees controversy blowing over [Reuters]
France backs Greece as spat over pension payout splits Europe [Reuters]

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