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The New European Politics
Europe’s South-South Fight

As details about last month’s fight high-stakes negotiations between Greece and the Eurogroup come to light, the world is starting to see what insiders whispered at the time: Madrid, as much as Berlin, was playing the role of bad cop. And the Greek Prime Minister thinks he knows why. As Open Europe reports:

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said over the weekend […] “We found opposing us an axis of powers…led by the governments of Spain and Portugal which for obvious political reasons attempted to lead the entire negotiations to the brink,” adding that Spain wants “unconditional surrender” before “the Greek example effects other countries…and mainly before the Spanish elections.” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hit back saying, “We’re not responsible for the frustration generated by the Greek radical left, which promised the Greeks what they knew they couldn’t keep – as it’s now been proved.”

Tsirpas and Rajoy represent the new European politics that has been growing up around the euro crisis. Rather than breaking down entirely on lines of national interest, they are split along ideological lines pertaining to the euro crisis: both Spain and Greece have a pro-loose-money party (to put it broadly) in Syriza and the radical, surging Podemos; and both have status quo parties, in the form of Rajoy’s PP and the recently defeated ruling coalition in Greece. If Rajoy were defeated, its entirely likely Greece would suddenly side with Spain in the intra-European debate.

It’s not surprising, either, that until then, the Madrid-Athens spat has grown bitter. Germany is not going to split along these lines—it is solid for the current monetary policy. As long as the south has the most to gain from a relaxation but also the most to fear from contagion, that’s where we’ll see the fights. (And that includes France, where Sarkozy recently said, in essence, ‘Vote Front National, get Syriza’.)

Podemos, Syriza, and in its own way FN all represent a radical break from EU and eurozone policies as currently written. So they will all continue to have incentives to line up together—and so will the establishment opposing them.


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