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Greek Elections: Reactions from Around the World

The election results have stunned pundits and media commentators around the world, in many cases overshadowing even the triumph of socialist Francois Hollande in the French presidential polls. But both elections were interpreted as a direct challenge to the austerity-driven policies of combating the eurozone's debt crisis being pushed by Berlin.

The Guardian described the Greek election results as “a major upset that will not be welcomed by the crisis-plagued country's eurozone partners, in which the two forces that had agreed to enact unpopular belt-tightening in return for rescue funds appeared headed for a beating, with none being able to form a government”.

“Greece's ruling coalition appeared headed for steep losses in Sunday's parliamentary elections while parties on the far left and far right were poised to make significant gains amid anger over austerity measures,” said CNN.

The US network quoted Alexis Papahelas, executive editor of the newspaper Kathimerini, who took it for granted that "everybody understands the markets dictate reforms, austerity and so on", whereas voters want to "send a very strong message to the politicians."

The question that is raised, Papahelas said, is: "Is this compatible with parliamentary democracy?"
“The two parties will again sound alarm bells that Greeks have no choice but to continue tightening their belts or the country will face financial ruin,” predicted the Wall Street Journal after the “resounding 'no' to the tough austerity imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund”.

Fateful elections

The Financial Times viewed “the surprise collapse of the two biggest parties” as a “political earthquake”.

“There is a whole generational shift happening in just one night,” the FT quoted a political analyst as saying.

But the German media were not so circumspect in their comments.

“Ungrateful Greeks reject their Euro-rescue,” shouted Focus magazine, in a headline that's brought back memories of its infamous front page of two years ago, depicting the Venus de Milo statue draped in a Greek flag giving the finger to the world.

“Fateful elections!”, wrote the populist Bild newspaper. “It is uncertain who will now negotiate with Greece's creditors,” it said.

But Reuters noted that "many Greek voters shrugged off such threats and Socialist Francois Hollande's victory in France's presidential election may have boosted chances of a broad pushback against German-led austerity in Europe”.

No wonder the principal guardians of this perilous EU path in Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels remained tight-lipped about the outlook for their fiscal compact in the wake of a tectonic political shift in Athens and Paris.

Schaeuble threat

Most interesting will be German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's first comments on the results. The German finance minister could not have been clearer, two days before the election, when said:
"The future government in Greece must abide by the country's commitments."

"If Greek voters were to vote for a majority that does not honour those agreements, then Greece will have to bear the consequences of that," he added.

Source: Athens News
Thursday, May 10, 2012