European Debt Crisis

Greece gambling with ‘financial armageddon’

David Brancaccio May 14, 2012

David Brancaccio: The president of Greece is trying to push the main parties there to form an emergency government. If not, there will be new elections. That could up-end the promises Greece made to cut budgets in return for bailout money.

George Christides covers the economy as a freelance journalist based in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. Good morning.

George Christides: Good morning.

Brancaccio: What do you think happens to the promises that Greece made to cut its budgets if there is indeed another election?

Christides: Yes, I think it’s quite clear that if the left-wing Syriza party that is currently leading the polls gets the majority along with other leftist parties, then there will be no following up with our commitments toward the troika. So I think it’s a poker game, they’ll play the card that if we go down, we take Europe with us. If, on the other hand, there is a majority of pro-bailout parties, then I think there will still be an effort to renegotiate the terms for the bailout, but Greece will have a better chance of staying in the euro.

Brancaccio: Are people coming to grips with the idea that the country might, just might have to leave the euro and go back to the drachma?

Christides: Although 80 percent of the Greek people wish to remain the eurozone, I’m afraid to say that for many people, returning to the drachma might seem like a salvation instead of a doomsday scenario. This is where the major political parties have failed to convince them that a financial armageddon might ensue in case we have to leave the eurozone. The same stands for Europeans as well, coming to grips with a possible Greek exit.

Brancaccio: George Christides is a freelance journalist with United Reporters, based in Thessaloniki in Greece. Mr. Christides, thank you very much.

Christides: Thank you, it’s been my pleasure.

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