Even as everyone struggles to wrap their heads around today’s “big deal” announcement (we’ll have some commentary up soon), yesterday’s big deal between Greece and its creditors faces its first hurdle as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tries to push an immediate set of reforms through parliament on Wednesday. Rumors abound that several ministers will be sacked for their opposition to the deal. Both the Left Platform wing of Syriza and the nationalist right-wing junior coalition partner the Independent Greeks are in open revolt, and chances are that Tsipras may face a vote of no-confidence soon leading to new elections after the vote passes. Nevertheless, the immediate prospects for the vote in parliament appear to be good. Tsipras will likely to lean hard on his opposition parties for support, leaving him with needing only 50 votes from his 162-vote strong Syriza coalition to pass the deal.
The thing to watch beyond the immediate political repercussions in Greece is how this plays out in the broader European political context. As Bloomberg points out, the lesson being internalized by the resurgent far right populist parties across the continent isn’t that resisting the austerity demands of European creditors is futile. Rather, it’s that a grave historical injustice has been perpetrated. That will serve as a good recruiting tool for their purposes:
The Greek premier’s capitulation hands ammunition to those like Marine Le Pen in France and Beppe Grillo in Italy who see the EU as a totalitarian bloc that rides roughshod over national sovereignty and democracy.
Grillo, who wants out of the euro, said in a blog post that Europe “humiliated” Greece. Tsipras was “forced to capitulate to EU despotism,” National Front leader Le Pen said in a televised news conference Monday. The bloc’s common currency, she said, is “not sustainable and a catastrophe.” […]
Grillo, whose Five Star movement is Italy’s second-largest party, and Le Pen, who leads first-round presidential election polls in France, lost no time in leading fresh attacks against the bloc’s focus on fiscal prudence after the Greek deal was announced Monday morning.
Spanish party Podemos, which ousted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party in regional elections in Madrid in May on a similar anti-austerity platform to Syriza, took more time to digest the outcome.
Podemos, which faces national elections later this year, will hold a press conference later on Tuesday. Leader Pablo Iglesias, who has in the past traveled to Athens to demonstrate solidarity with Tsipras, expressed his support for Greece “against the Mafiosos” in a Twitter post Monday.
The elections in Spain, scheduled for December of this year, will likely be the first real indication of how the Greek crisis has affected European politics. And if Podemos wins, expect a lot more turmoil. As Iglesias himself calmly noted before the Greek drama reached its latest denouement, “Spain has something like 13 per cent of European gross domestic product, while Greece has about 2 per cent. Our government is more able to resist outside forces that might stop us doing our own thing.” Translation: just try to do to us what you did to the Greeks.