By Xenia Plotnikova
A Europe’s Nightmare – the exit of Greece from the euro zone. Politicians and economists talk about it as a very likely prospect that could lead to a domino effect. Pessimists say that other countries could follow after Greece. EU leaders are urgently developing plans to respond in case of worst scenario. Much will depend on the outcome of the legislative elections in Greece, scheduled for June 17. In an interview with “Voice of Russia” Stella Ladi, a Research Officer at Greek Politics Specialist Group and Lecturer at Panteion University, Athens, commented the situation.
What do you expect from June 17 elections? Do you think they will be a success? And what party do you expect to lead the elections?
This is a big question for all of us; I don’t think we can say now what results would be, but it’s seems that two leading parties at the moment are the New Democracy, which is a conservative party, and SYRIZA (Coalition of Radical Left),which is left-wing party. So these two parties seem to have something like 20-23% votes. It depends on the polls as you see, 17 may polls showed that New Democracy goes first, while two days ago we thought SYRIZA coming first. So I think it would be real fight between these two parties.
In your opinion, what reforms and changes will take place after the June elections?
In reality it depends on which party comes to power. If we have the New Democracy party coming first, I think, they will make coalition, because none of the parties would be able to govern by itself. So if it would be the New Democracy, I think it would be much easier to former coalition with PASOK (Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement), the party of previous socialist government, and carry on with the austerity measures, maybe negotiate to win more time to make these measures easier for the citizens. But I guess they will carry on with the same program.
Now if SYRIZA will come to power, then it will be a much more difficult situation. I’m not convinced that they have a real program of reforms, which would be different to what we have already agreed to the memorandum. So now they are saying that “We’re developing an alternative plan and we’ll present it”, but I haven’t heard about convincing plan from them yet.
What are the future perspectives in political and economic sense for Greece if it leaves EU?
Well, in fact I think it’s not very possible to leave the euro zone. At least the majority of the people don’t want to leave the euro zone and I think they will vote in this direction on the elections. Obviously, if Greece would have to leave the euro zone, it would be a step back. It would be very difficult from political point of view, because it would weaken both Greece’s position in European Union and the entire euro zone. And economically it would mean a new start with very bad terms, because new Drachma would be a very weak currency and it wouldn’t make any sense in economic terms. It would mean that the living standards will be lowed even more than now, in reality it would be a very bad situation.
There is a real possibility that Greece will change its currency from Euro back to Drachma. What will that mean for the economy of the country?
Yes, I guess this is what we were talking about now. I cannot see there is a real possibility. Of course SYRIZA is the left-wing party, it clangs with the fire and in my opinion they are a little bit arrogant about what they can negotiate in Europe and how they can change the situation. So if they will be possessed with this policy, there is a possibility that we would go back to Drachma, but I think it’s too early to talk about it, because the majority of population doesn’t want it, and I guess they will try to show it with their votes. I hope the discuss that we would have before the elections will help people to realize the problematic nature of having a vote that would lead the country to Drachma. Any such ideas would be catastrophic for the economy and political stability in region, not only Greece.
What is your relation to decrease Greece’s ratings by Fitch ratings agency?
This agency they do their ratings depending on economic and political climate of each country. It is naturally this kind of instability is decreasing Greece’s rating. But I’m a political scientist; I’m not an economist, so I don’t think I can say much more about it.