Greece: Donald Tusk warns of extremist political contagion
Peter Spiegel in Brussels
Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who now heads the European Council, said he feared “political contagion” from the Greek crisis far more than its financial fallout, arguing that common cause between far-right and far-left groups has been a precursor to some of Europe’s darkest moments of the last century.
The new bailout deal, which involves sweeping austerity measures including a requirement to put an estimated €50bn of Greek public assets into a privatisation fund supervised by EU authorities, has led to accusations in Athens that Ms Merkel forced on Greece the kind of punitive conditions Germany was saddled with at the end of the first world war.
He said he was taken aback by a speech Mr Tsipras gave to the European Parliament last week where his criticism of Germany — including an argument that whereas Germany was provided “solidarity” and debt relief after the second world war, Greece had been denied similar treatment — was loudly cheered by a large number of MEPs.
“It was the first time I saw radicals with such emotion, in this context anti-German emotion. It was almost half of the European Parliament.
“Bijna het halve Europese Parlement”. Nou heeft dat EP niks te vertellen, want het is helemaal geen parlement, maar het is wel een teken aan de wand. Was EU-kritiek tot nu toe voorbehouden aan wat de eurofielen voor het gemak als extreem-rechts wegzetten, wat er met Griekenland geflikt wordt gaat in tegen alles waar traditioneel links voor staat. De armen worden het hardst geraakt. Tot nu toe heeft links altijd de EU verdedigd, misschien gaan ze eindelijk eens wakker worden. We zullen ze nodig hebben bij het slopen van de EU.
EMU brutality in Greece has destroyed the trust of Europe’s Left
‘The Left let itself become the enforcer of reactionary policies and mass unemployment because of the euro.’ Greece has broken the spell
The EU establishment henceforth faces what it has always feared: a political war on two fronts at once.
It is long been fighting an expanding coaltion of free marketeers, parliamentary “souverainistes”, anti-immigrant populists on the Right.
Its has now lost its remaining emotional hold on the Left after the scorched-earth treatment of Greece over the past five months – culminating in the vindictive decision to impose yet harsher terms on this crushed nation just days after its cri de coeur in a landslide referendum.
This has been coming for a long time. We Conservatives have watched in disbelief as one Socialist party after another immolates itself on the altar of monetary union, defending a project that favours the elites – a “bankers’ ramp”, as the old Left used to call it.
“Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage,” says George Monbiot. “How can the left support what is being done?” asks Suzanne Moore. The EU is being portrayed “with some truth, as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution”, says Nick Cohen.
Variants of this debate are stirring across Europe. Luigi Zingales, an adviser to Italy’s premier Matteo Renzi, has become a flaming eurosceptic. “This European project is dead forever. If Europe is nothing but a bad version of the IMF, what is left of the European integration project?” he wrote as Greece capitulated.
Whether or not the EMU creditor powers intended to bring down an elected Greek government, and whether or not it was a “coup” as the Twitterati allege, there is no doubt that Syriza was compelled by financial coercion to abandon its election promises. It must even repeal all “fiscal” laws passed since January.
Mr Tilford said the Left in Italy, Spain and France have for years been clinging to the illusion that Germany would eventually agree to relax austerity and accept a different kind of EMU.
“This has been totally discredited by the events of last weekend. Everybody can see graphically and brutally where the limits lie. If you can’t abide by euro rules, you will be quarantined and evicted,” he said.
Let us not forget that the European Central Bank brought about the final collapse by freezing emergency liquidity to the Greek banks, forcing Syriza to shut the lenders’ doors, impose capital controls and halt imports.
This violates the principle of the EU banking union, supposed to separate the fate of private banks from the travails of the sovereign state. It was a political decision – dressed up with technical flammery – and was arguably illegal. It is very hard to reconcile with the ECB’s treaty duty to uphold financial stability.
We all know what the game was. Germany and its allies were determined to make an example of Syriza to discourage voters in any other country from daring to buck the system.