Tag Archives: tsipras

Greek elections: winners and losers in numbers

There is no doubt that Tsipras won his bet last night, with the rebels of Popular Unity failing to make it to parliament, and by maintaining a striking 145 seats in the parliament – Syriza won 149 MPs in the January 2015 elections. The fact that, despite a major drop since January, his junior coalition partners – the xenophobic nationalists of Anel – were able to gain 10 seats was also a big plus. He can now keep the same coalition and avoid the “pact with the devil” with old parties like Pasok, or the unashamedly pro-troika pro-oligarchs new formation of To Potami.

But speaking of Tsipras’ “triumph”, as many have done, is rather short-sighted and does not really capture the essence of the significant changes in the political arena that this election has marked, only 8 months after the previous one.

One thing is clear: the only indisputable winner is abstention. 4,274,000 people stayed home, 43.4% of eligible voters. This makes it the lowest turnout in the history of Greek parliamentary elections, with 7% less than the January elections. The ranks of those who stayed home swelled with an additional 764,000 people.

Many have been saying that the pro-bailout parties have overwhelmingly won the elections. The pro-bailout parties obtained an unprecedented 267 MPs out of 300. Yet, they have done so with only 44.7% of all registered voters. This is slightly less than the aggregate of abstention, invalid and blank votes, which makes up 44.8%. When you add this to the anti-bailout parties’ performance (9%), you get a clear majority of Greeks who have not supported pro-bailout parties: 53.8%.*

This of course doesn’t detract from the negative performance of anti-bailout left parties like Popular Unity, that did not even make it to parliament, and KKE, which maintained the same number of seats as in January (15), but lost many votes on the way.

The truth is that most parties lost voters, but some more than others. And here is the key to read this election: it’s not so much Tsipras’ victory, but a bigger defeat of his opponents.

Table1
Syriza lost 320,000 voters in just 8 months. That’s a decline of 14.2%, which is significant. Comparing the percentage of cast votes, Syriza appears to have lost less than 1% (from 36.4% in January to 35.5% on Sunday). But a much more accurate portrayal is the percentage over the total registered voters: in January, it was 22.6%; on Sunday it came down to 19.6%. That’s a considerable drop of 3% in just 8 months.

Their main opponents, the conservatives of New Democracy (ND), lost 192,000 voters, a decline of 11.2%, thus not posing a real threat to Tsipras, despite most opinion polls giving the two parties neck-to-neck before Sunday – it’s quite likely, as it happened in the past, that the media oligarchs preferred to boost ND numbers and underplay Tsipras’ strength.

These numbers also show that anti-bailout left parties did not pose a serious threat either. The Greek communists of the KKE, who had disengaged from the bailout referendum in July and kept a critical distance from the debate around negotiations with the troika, lost 36,000 voters. This is a significant number for a small party, equivalent to a decline of 10.8% of total votes since January.

Popular Unity, which benefited from the visibility of being in government in the previous months and at the centre of the bailout drama, also failed to capitalise on the ‘no’ overwhelming victory in July. Assuming that they intercepted discontented Syriza voters, they captured slightly less than half of the voters who abandoned Syriza, and missed the 3% bar to enter parliament by 8,000 votes or so.

It is easy to interpret the poor performance of the two major left alternatives to Syriza as a further proof that Greeks might have issues with the bailout, but prefer to stay in the euro. In fact, one could argue the opposite. KKE made it clear that they were not contemplating Grexit. So while their principled opposition to the bailout in parliament was not in doubt, many might have wondered what kind of alternative they could really provide within the eurozone.

Popular Unity, which started its campaign with very strong messages about Grexit, gradually diluted their position as the campaign unfolded. I think another factor that played against them was having been in government just until few weeks before. Those who have not forgotten the betrayals of two mandates (the January election and the July referendum), would have struggled to trust Popular Unity’s promises. Tactically, their dangerous engagement with nationalist rhetoric (including a rather cold and ambivalent position on refugees) might have failed to achieve much in electoral consensus, with Tsipras ‘moderate’ patriotism being a better rehearsed script for left-oriented audiences, and the xenophobic nationalism of Golden Dawn sending clear, if disturbing, messages about the need to cater to “Greeks only”.

On the far right front, Anel’s xenophobic rhetoric did little to stop its decline – they paid a much higher price than Tsipras for their entry into troika mainstream politics. They lost 93,000 votes since January, a 31.8% decline. Golden Dawn on the other hand maintained a strong performance, and remains the third party in Greece. They lost only 9,000 votes (-2.3%). Given their judicial troubles and the admissions of political responsibility over hate murders by their leaders, their result remains a major worry. Perhaps the only positive factor is that they don’t seem to have gained from the general decline of the two major parties – thankfully, people decided to stay at home, rather than supporting the neo-nazis.

The only two parties in parliament that gained votes in this round are Pasok and the Union of Centrists. Pasok allied itself with Dimar. Together they gained 22,000 voters over their aggregate performance in January (+6.9%). Only a comprehensive analysis of the micro-data at district level can tell us something more conclusive about this trend. It is possible that some former Pasok voters who supported Syriza in January, have now come back to Pasok.

Leventis’ Union of Centrists is probably the only party that is fully entitled to celebrate Sunday’s results. Its party gained 75,000 voters, a staggering 68.1% increase from January. It is telling that a party broken by judicial scandals (Pasok) and another one that has always been seen as a kind of ‘joke’ for running too many elections without ever making into parliament, are the only ones gaining votes. It is certainly another symptom of systemic crisis in the Greek political arena.

Finally, another sign that the narrative of an “overwhelming” victory of pro-bailout parties doesn’t hold is the collapse of pro-troika pro-media To Potami. They lost 152,000 votes since January (-40.6%). If there was any overt support on the ground for the way things unfolded since Tsipras’ capitulation to the creditors’ demands, then To Potami should have been the first to benefit.

Despite Syriza’s considerable decline, Tsipras remains firmly in control over the levies of power. The number of votes he lost was perhaps less than expected, given that he faced a relentless campaign from those who felt betrayed by the new bailout, but also the experienced politicians of New Democracy, which were waiting for the first opportunity to get back into power.

Let’s not forget the main reason for calling the elections so quickly: the impact of the new bailout measures approved so far has not yet been felt by the wider populace, and there are many more harsh measures still to be approved as part of the troika agreement. Pressure from Brussels and Germany has far from eased. The creditors want to see more cuts and liberalisations in the next few weeks. Will Tsipras and his party survive the full weight of the bailout? Certainly the electoral results favour both Tsipras and the creditors. Tsipras can push parliamentary support for the bailout without having to enter into a formal alliance with the old “corrupt” parties he has been attacking over and over again in the last campaign. He thus maintains face, while toeing the troika’s line. He was also able to get rid of the most vocal rebels, something that both he and the creditors must be very relieved about.

But a majority of 155 seats between Syriza and Anel, means a margin of only 4 votes, and there will be many controversial measures that will be difficult to pass with these numbers. This is far from a stable arrangement in a country that has gone through five elections in six years.

It took less than three years for the old main parties Pasok and New Democracy to see their voters nearly halved or more. In October 2009, Pasok won the elections with 3,012,000 votes (43.9% of valid votes); New Democracy came second with 2,296,000 votes (33.5%). In May 2012, Pasok’s consensus had collapsed to 833,000 votes (13.2%); New Democracy came first, but with slightly more than half of 2009 votes, a meagre 18.9% of valid votes. The new bailout signed by Tsipras ends in less than three years time. Could it be the deadline of his demise?

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*Please note that there are other smaller parties which ran in the elections that make up 1.5% of the total registered voters. I don’t have information to evaluate their stance on the bailout, they are likely to be a mix of both pro- and anti-bailout. Of the parties that did not make it to parliament, I have counted Popular Unity and Antarsya as anti-bailout.

**Pasok and Dimar ran separately in January, the figure refers to the aggregate of the two parties.

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Greece has a new government: will it last?

Formalities will be announced later, but everything signals towards the continuation of a coalition government between Syriza and the Greek nationalists of Anel. Their leaders, Tsipras and Kammenos, have just hugged on stage as they celebrate the victory and address their supporters. With 60% of votes counted, they would obtain 155 seats together, enough to secure the absolute majority in parliament. This is 7 seats less than in the previous elections in January, but without a considerable number of rebels in Syriza’s ranks.

Tsipras could open up the coalition to other forces like the old centre-left Pasok, or the new, but already failing, pro-media pro-troika To Potami. But this would probably bring more trouble than anything.

This is no doubt Tsipras’ night – despite the long shadow cast by the rise of the neonazis and the shockingly high number of people who stayed at home (around 44% so far).

Will his new government be able to navigate through a seemingly contradictory agenda of implementing the harsh measures of the 3rd bailout programme while mitigating its worst effects, as Tsipras has been repeating in the last months? Or is this just the beginning of the end?

With creditors already knocking at the door for “quick and effective reforms” (read more austerity and privatisations, now), we will know pretty soon whether Tsipras’ bet will pay.

Greek crisis round up – 26 August 2015

This update focuses on the Greek snap elections following PM Tsipras’ resignation, which are likely to be held on 20th September.

As a summary of some of the agenda items of the newly formed Popular Unity – the Greek party created by Syriza anti-bailout rebels – I recommend an interesting media profile published today on their leader, Panagiotis Lafazanis. Popular Unity’s electoral programme advocates Grexit, partial cancellation of debt, restoration of national sovereignty via some form of socialist economy, and disengagement from NATO and Euro-Atlantic alliances – with an eye towards Russia.

In programmatic terms, the differences with the well established Greek Communist Party (KKE) are minimal, and many of Popular Unity cadres were formerly in the KKE, including Lafazanis. The KKE has a solid grassroots organisation, including a workers’ association (PAME) and a youth wing (KNE). Popular Unity has to pretty much improvise along the way with elections just around the corner.

Much will depend on mounting street sentiment against the bailout – or lack thereof. Popular Unity can capitalise on its vocal opposition to the bailout at the centre of the mainstream debate while its leaders were still within Syriza. Whatever analysts and politicians say, it will be very difficult to make any informed guess based on polls, as the elections have been called so quickly and new parties are appearing overnight. The controversial speaker of parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou has also announced a new party, which will possibly run as an ally of Popular Unity.

While most analysts, backed by early polls, bet on Tsipras’ victory (but without an overall majority in parliament), the signals from Syriza ranks are not positive. Today 53 members of the party central committee resigned – these were largely part of Left Platform, the faction that is behind Popular Unity. 17 members had already resigned previously in disagreement with Syriza’s acceptance of the bailout terms, which means 70 out of 201 members have left the central committee. Reports on the ground indicate many local cadres are leaving Syriza. The central committee secretary general Koronakis also resigned on Monday. He is believed to have been close to Tsipras, his resignation has been perceived as a major blow to the majority line.

Beyond the struggle for consensus on the anti-bailout left front, there are other trends that will be important to monitor. One is the contest between the new reincarnation of Syriza, moving rapidly towards the centre, and other pro-bailout parties – early polls indicate New Democracy trailing closely behind Syriza, but the performance of To Potami and Pasok will also be an important indicator of consensus for working within the eurozone institutional framework. Another important factor will be how well the neo-nazis of Golden Dawn will do – will there be a rise in their share of the votes given the failure of Syriza’s populist line and the fragmentation on the left? Will Golden Dawn capture some of the discontent with the capitulation to the creditors, compounded by economic crisis and the panic caused by the refugee crisis?

There is also the possibility of low turnout as a manifestation of increasing disaffection with the democratic process. After all, many people might feel that Syriza’s electoral victory in January on a clear anti-austerity ticket, and the overwhelming opposition to the bailout in July’s referendum, have not led to any positive outcome in this direction.

A new left project against the bailout in Greece: if not now, when?

A piece published today by Stathis Kouvelakis, one of the most vocal Syriza’s dissenters and a leading figure of Left Platform, spurs some reflections in the aftermath of Syriza’s central committee meeting last week which saw Tsipras emerge victorious – at least for now. It should be noted that the article is based on a speech that was given a few days before the central committee meeting.

Kouvelakis clearly articulates the failures of Syriza’s ‘majority’ line, highlighting the main factors that led to the capitulation – among them, a rather distressing accommodation of established Greek media and banking powers by Syriza-Anel government, which casts further doubt on Tsipras’ ability of turning this debacle into anything useful for Greeks in the following months.

The final part of the piece focuses on what’s next, with Kouvelakis’ call for a new political movement building on the Oxi mobilisation. This would be a progressive alternative and a pan-European alliance that moves beyond the eurozone and ‘left-Europeanism’ as he calls it. The movement would work from its very inception against the bailout and against the continuation of troika’s rule.

Now, Kouvelakis develops some pretty good points here showing a complexity of reasoning and arguments that is welcome and useful. But we still need to know in practice how we make sense of last week’s Left Platform stance in the central committee. Why was Tsipras’ call for a party conference after the bailout talks accepted? Where was the internal majority often invoked by Left Platform ready to question the bailout from this very moment? Is Left Platform serious about overturning this bailout or will it all just end up in another collective internal reflection without any practical action to resist the new agreement?

If Syriza dissenters don’t come up with a practical plan in the short-term to show that they are serious about this alternative agenda, the new project Kouvelakis advocates will rapidly collapse – for the very reasons Kouvelakis clearly points out when analysing the failure of Tsipras’ line. Credibility is a major issue here. If Left Platform does not move beyond statements and announcements and towards tangible action, the left alternative to Tsipras will dissolve just as quickly. Certainly, waiting for the bailout talks to be over to discuss what’s gone wrong within Syriza is not a credible answer, as members of Left Platform have already highlighted.

Syriza’s internal divisions and the future of the left

As the debate around Syriza’s internal divisions and its future (and that of the left in Greece and Europe more generally) continues, it is perhaps surprising to hear old arguments being rehashed in favour of ‘tactical’ unity around Tsipras, a leader who betrayed his electoral mandate and is unwilling to face the consequences. In a piece in Jacobin Magazine, for instance, Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch argue that:
     “Those who — like ourselves — believe that leaving the eurozone will eventually be necessary must acknowledge that this cannot be done immediately. A base for leaving must be developed, and this means taking the time to prepare for exit.
     The continuing support for Tsipras suggests that there is time to deal with creating the necessary transformations within the state, and the creative plans that both maintain confidence in the government and allow people to organically learn why they need to move beyond the limits of integration within a neoliberal Europe.”
     The problem is that once in power, people’s representatives easily forget who they represent and talk about the future of a country as something a few dozens intellectuals can plan and implement at will, sitting around a table – “of course the masses out there will understand”, “if we can just buy a bit more time to get the real revolution going”…
     Meanwhile, the real alternatives for positive change are washed away by an unprincipled betrayal of all those who supported the Syriza project in January – it is unlikely that most of them are interested in or approve of erudite Marxist tactics, especially in a situation of deep crisis where their livelihoods are at stake.
     Syriza’s dissenting leaders are no doubt under a lot of pressure to make the ‘right’ decision – should they break away or not? If they decide to remain in an uncomfortable ‘tactical’ alliance with Tsipras, they will also be held accountable for this debacle. The fear of a return of the old political classes might be enough to keep Syriza together for now, but in the long-term it would be a colossal mistake. It would burn the already diminishing credibility of the new left in people’s eyes, and open the way for neo-nazis and other chauvinist movements to steal the show and act as the only mass opposition to austerity and the memoranda.
     Tsipras’ high personal ratings are a sign that he has rapidly adapted to the political arena, showing in fact many of the skills of seasoned politicians. He has been able to spin a successful narrative out of a spectacular defeat, but there is no substance or vision in this move – only the well-known trademarks of a professional politician who knows how to tell a good story to get out of trouble.
     When more people will wake up to the reality of what the government has signed up for, the ratings will rapidly collapse, just like old parties like New Democracy and PASOK dissolved into thin air in a matter of months. Those who are interested in a progressive alternative to austerity need to think beyond polls and short-term power politics.
     Nor are these issues confined to Greece. Italy has already seen the defeat of a corrupt and colluded left. A progressive alternative to European technocracy simply has no grassroots consensus, and the anti-austerity agenda has been hijacked by right-wing xenophobes and national chauvinists. In Spain, Podemos might end up in the same trap, especially if they follow in Tsipras’ footsteps and settle for a gradualist approach.

Greek crisis round up – 24 July 2015

—> Wednesday night the Greek parliament approved a 977-page bill as required by the new EU memorandum. Syriza MPs only received it a day before the parliamentary debate. It is clear that nobody could possibly have gone through all the pages to have an informed debate. The hours of debate preceding the vote showed in fact that there was little talk of the actual measures under scrutiny.
We will have to wait for much more refined analysis to understand all the implications of the bill. What English-speaking analyses have reported so far is that the bill covered two main areas: a whole new Civil Procedure code – basically a reform of the civil justice system; and the implementation of the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, laying out rules for bank rescue – allegedly to avoid taxpayers to bear the burden, in practice to shift the burden towards bank depositors.

Important measures that have been downplayed by pro-agreement media:

– the EU directive now sets rules for bail-in (i.e. bank depositors’ haircuts) for banks recapitalisation in case of insolvency or bankruptcy; the rules will only come into force from January 2016, sparking speculation by some analysts that depositors will take a hit (i.e. they will lose part of their savings to recapitalise the Greek banks), and it is just a matter of when, rather than if. Business analyst Frances Coppola sees the continuation of capital controls as a prelude to bail-in of depositors. There are widespread fears of a repeat of Cyprus, where account holders with more than 100,000 euros lost money. In this scenario, Greek small and medium enterprises would take a major hit, further eroding any chance for economic growth and recovery;

– another hot topic is the issue of home repossessions on non-performing loans (i.e. large numbers of Greeks defaulted on their mortgages). Banks up to now have avoided mass repossessions. According to pro-agreement English-speaking Greek analysis outlet Macropolis, the new measures approved by the bill make it easier for banks to auction homes on non-performing loans. In his speech to the Greek parliament, Tsipras of course reassured with much emphasis that it would be the end of Syriza if the poorest and more vulnerable were not protected – he has not however said much about the real scope of potential home repossessions. This issue is connected to the bail-in. The general orientation of creditors is to make sure that Greek banks’ recapitalisation (accepted by everybody as inevitable) takes place with the least possible burden on international creditors (i.e. reducing the amount of money to be loaned to save the banks). This means of course that the hit will have to be borne by common people and the Greek economy.

—> Predictably, the bill was approved, with pro-agreement opposition New Democracy and PASOK supporting the government. The main attention was focused on Syriza internal dissent. 36 MPs voted no or abstained, down from 39 in the previous vote a week before – the fact remains that the Syriza-Anel coalition does not have a majority anymore. In another spectacular u-turn Varoufakis voted ‘yes’ – apparently arguing that he was already in favour of these measures before.

It is unclear what the implications of this continued dissent are. Syriza’s central committee has not been called yet, Tsipras seems to be stalling on that. There are contrasting views over the real intentions of the dissenters and whether there will be a split or not. Rumours about snap elections in autumn are rife – this seems to be a probable scenario if the dissenters leave and form a new party. Pollsters give Tsipras’ Syriza still firmly on the lead, and Tsipras ratings remain high – this is all to be taken with a grain of salt, these are the same pollsters who hugely underestimated the ‘no’ vote in the Greferendum.

Beyond the questionable numbers, Tsipras seems to be managing this transition pretty well. He has made strong inroads with the pro-agreement Greek media establishment, which was notoriously anti-Syriza and anti-referendum. The rhetoric of a heroic national leader crushed by the unbeatable powers of Germany and Europe, and forced into accepting an unfavourable agreement to avoid complete collapse, seems to be gaining ground. Syriza hopefuls are trying to make sense of Tsipras’ capitulation, while retaining Syriza’s ‘distinctiveness’ vis-a-vis the older political establishment. A popular narrative is that this is just a tactical move and in the end Syriza will rise again, ignore the agreement and get going with the long-term plan of radical and progressive change – but for now Tsipras needs more time to regain strength and come up with a viable plan, the story goes. Of course Syriza dissenters categorically reject such narratives as delusional, and claim that Tsipras’ choice has been disastrous and there is nothing heroic about giving in to creditors and betraying the Greferendum.

—> The Greek bill vote is another milestone of the agreement process, various government leaders and technocrats now estimate that the deal should be finalised in the second half of August. After €7.16bn disbursed as bridge funding last monday (all gone back to the creditors, mostly IMF and ECB), there is talk of another bridge loan to allow Greece to repay €3.2bn to the ECB, due on 20 August – the deal might not be finalised by then.

—> Talks from many quarters seem to confirm that debt restructuring is firmly on the agenda, even though we don’t really know how much, in what ways, what it really means etc. The Italian central bank governor noted yesterday that in fact interest rates on Greece’s negotiated debt repayments are quite low and the timelines spread over time – something that both Syriza and its opposers in the last election made sure to keep well hidden from public scrutiny. According to him, further extensions won’t be enough to sort out the problem, substantial debt relief needs to be on the agenda – translated, this is closer to the IMF line that part of the debt needs to be cancelled, something Germany is not even considering at the moment.

It is significant that high-level US officials continue to join in the conversation, reassuring that the talks are proceeding smoothly and that a deal will be struck and one that is not bringing Greece to its knees – something they did even during the heated days around the Greferendum. This is of course neither altruistic help for allies in trouble, nor merely a preoccupation for the stability of global financial markets. The US has very little interest in Grexit and will do whatever they can to avoid Greece falling into the hands of Putin – something a Grexit would make quite likely.

—> The bailout talks will now continue in Greece, the troika is about to return to its ‘debt colony’. The latest is that there are disagreements between troika chiefs and the Greek government over where the creditors will lodge. Of course this is more about the symbolic moment of capitulation which Tsipras is trying to manage by stalling and appearing like he’s got some say and leeway to contain the troika’s interference in Greek matters.

Major obstacles on the way – or should we say, other bitter pills to swallow for Greeks – are discussions around labour laws reforms that will further weaken workers’ position, market liberalisations and the even more controversial privatisation fund. The Greek parliament will have to approve more neoliberal measures in August. There also remains the open question of IMF disagreement with Germany and other EU countries over debt relief.

Greek crisis round up – 18 July 2015

GREEK CRISIS ROUND UP 18 JULY 2015

– The main news from yesterday is that the German parliament has given mandate to start talks for the 3rd bailout, the new ESM loan, with a vast majority of 439 in favour vs 119 against. A significant fact is the increase of dissent from within CDU/CSU (Merkel’s centre-right alliance) compared to previous votes on Greece. All other countries that needed approval from parliament or special committees to go ahead have now been given mandate to start talks for the new loan (France, Finland, Austria, Latvia and Netherlands).

– EU countries have finalised details for bridge financing to allow Greece to honour upcoming debt repayments and clear arrears. €7.16bn will be provided by the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) – the EFSM includes non-euro EU countries, British concerns that their money would be used for Greece have been addressed through a system that gives guarantees to non-euro signatory countries in case Greece fails to repay this loan.

– After the extension of ECB emergency liquidity, Greek banks are set to reopen on Monday, but capital controls (weekly withdrawal limit of €420; bans on foreign transfers) will continue for some time after that, according to various sources. This means the reopening is more cosmetic than anything, the viability of Greek banks remains a serious concern and will for some time.

– Ongoing talks around the 3rd bailout are already marked by a major division among the creditors. IMF director Lagarde has emphasised that Greek debt is not sustainable without major debt relief – implying that the IMF might not participate in the new bailout, to follow its mandate of not lending to countries that are not likely to be solvent. EU countries are counting on €16bn or so from the IMF, a substantial chunk of the €85-86bn package for Greece.

– There are also ‘quieter’ calls from all quarters, from international left-leaning economists to right-wing creditor government technocrats, suggesting that in the end Grexit might be the best option for Greece and for everybody else – perhaps it is just a matter of timing and providing a ‘sweet’ Grexit offer when it becomes clear that Greeks cannot or do not want to bear the burden of the harsh conditions imposed by the new bailout.

– Syriza’s internal crisis continues, with the majority of Syriza’s central committee members opposing the deal (109 out of 201; https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/07/syriza-debt-tsipras-left-platform-kouvelakis/), it’s clear that the rift is much bigger than the numbers of dissenters in parliament. Last night Tsipras has announced a cabinet (mini)reshuffle, confirming Tsakalotos (who replaces Varoufakis), and replacing Lafazanis, energy minister and vocal opponent of the deal – he was also pushing for a gas pipeline deal with Russia, among other things – with former labour minister Skourletis. Other dissenting deputy ministers were also replaced. These are still early stages anyway, we will have to see in the next days – the next votes in Greek parliament connected to the bailout deal will be an important test. Many are now talking about possible elections in autumn.

– Another interesting development is the rising number of prominent left voices in the UK standing against a EU left solution to austerity and neoliberal policies, some hinting at Brexit in view of the 2017 British referendum on EU membership. In fact Cameron’s dangerous play of showing EU failures while hoping for reforms towards more national sovereignty to win a Yes might backfire, with increasing numbers of Tory eurosceptics seriously considering Brexit. The leader of UNITE, the biggest trade union in Britain, is threatening to campaign for a No vote if Cameron pushes for EU treaty changes that weaken workers’ rights. Events in and around Greece in the following months are certainly set to influence the voting behaviour of the British left. A paradoxical effect of the Greek turmoil might be an unlikely convergence of right and left on Brexit, for rather different reasons of course.