Greek anti-bailout leader Alexis Tsipras may share more common ground with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when it comes to financial markets than suggested by his attacks on the austerity she demands.
Tsipras, meeting opposition politicians in Berlin today, sees Europe’s financial crisis as “a war between peoples and capitalism, and Greece is on the frontline of that war,” he told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published May 18.
Contrast that with Merkel, who said in a speech on Nov. 18, 2010, that “it’s true there is a kind of battle over what power the financial markets have and how much room for policy making the politicians have.” At stake is “what we call the primacy of politics,” she said.
Merkel and Tsipras are two opposing faces of the sovereign debt crisis that has raged for more than two years as policy makers failed to enact measures deemed sufficient by markets.
Still, Merkel has shown herself willing to change tack as events dictated. She no longer talks about a battle with markets for supremacy. She cites bond spreads as a reason for countries to cut debt. She also abandoned a call for investors to bear compulsory writedowns in any future bailouts.
Tsipras, whose Syriza party was leading in a poll released May 19 of voting intentions for June 17 elections, has pledged to rip up the terms of Greece’s rescue and halt the austerity measures already agreed with international creditors. He is due to have talks with members of Germany’s anti-capitalist Left Party, then hold a press conference at 3 p.m. in Berlin. He won’t meet any members of the government.
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