European leaders are watching the French election with bated breath, anticipating a possible new regime under socialist François Hollande. The outcome could determine the future of Europe’s austerity measures and reshape the Franco-German relationship. If this relationship falls apart, Europe will find it more difficult to make decisions, and the Euro crisis could get even worse. Currently Hollande is ahead, and officials in Brussels are biting their nails.Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, an equally important election is taking place in Greece that has eurocrats in Brussels just as worried. The technocratic government of Lucas Papademos is preparing to cede power to a democratically elected successor, and center-right candidate Antonis Samaras is currently in the lead. Yet as the FT reports, fringe parties on both the left and right are gaining ground while the two major parties struggle to attract support. Many in the leading center-right New Democracy party openly worry that they may win without a commanding majority, which will make it difficult for the new government to administer the painful medicine the country needs.This puts Samaras in a tough position, walking a tightrope between domestic voters and international creditors. In an attempt to win over austerity-weary voters, Samaras is boldly promising major changes to the bailout program. These words may placate his Greek constituents, but they make the country’s international creditors, including the EU and IMF, very nervous. Rhetoric like this does nothing assuage their mistrust of Greece’s commitment to the austerity program. Samaras is attempting to reassure them that he will stick to the plan, but this is a difficult balance to strike. The tension will likely worsen as voters become more fed up with the program, and there is little sign that Brussels has any remedy.
From France to Greece, Voters Have Eurocrats Sweating Bullets