Editorial: balm promised for Greek torments

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Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

Who could count the tragic ends of heroes in Greek mythology...  This past weekend, fate came cruelly down Antonis Samaras and his centre-right New Democracy, after three years of navigating the treacherous waters of financial woes.

Their near 28 percent of the votes were nice but, in the Greek system, second place equals significant loss in seats at the parliament. A winner gets a bonus of sorts to make it easier for it to forge a majority government. And, this time, the winner nearly took it all: his radical-left Syriza harvesting over 36 percent of the votes, the new prime minister Alexis Tsipras came ever so close to avoid a coalition altogether.

The further actions of Mr Tsipras are unclear as for now. As for the promises of Syriza, it was music to the common Greek ear: to improve the social situation and to stand against «Brussels Diktat», or that of Angela Merkel as many of them bluntly say. The bulky EU aid packages came with conditions attached to reform the Greek economy and cut spending. With his anti-austerity rhetoric, Mr Tsipras came over as Orpheus upon his lyre. How nice to know for cuts-weary common people: no more rolling our stone to the hill, Sisyphus-style. And when it comes to getting fruit off trees, we the people now hope to do better than Tantalus.

Doubtless, Alexis Tsipras does have a democratic mandate to hold debt talks with the EU. But Angela Merkel – under the keen gaze of German right wing populists – has her own voters, as does the Finnish PM Alex Stubb who has already said there’ll be no debt forgiveness: the talk is limited to deadlines. At that, Finland does have the upcoming elections to consider. Near future will tell how much room for compromise there. And, as stated by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble at European Parliament yesterday: the sufferings of the Greeks have not been caused by Brussels or European Central Bank, but by Greek political elite slack during the decades.

In Helsingin Samomat, the well-known Finnish economist Sixten Korkman said the much talked-about «Grexit» was indeed an option, post-election, but not the scenario of first choice.  Probably, another compromise will be found and Greece rides on with the euro. In the end, it’s a common wish and in the interests of both Syriza and «Bad Brussels» to help Greek economy back on its feet again.