James Forsyth

A Syriza majority will put Athens and Berlin on a collision course

A Syriza majority will put Athens and Berlin on a collision course
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The next set of exit polls are now out from Greece and they, again, show Syriza pulling off a spectacular victory. Their lead might even be just enough to see them win an overall majority; the poll estimates that they will win between 148 and 154 seats in the 300 seat parliament.

If Syriza do win outright, they will have no justification to voters for watering down their demands to the rest of the Eurozone. They will have a clear mandate to push for the debt restructuring that they want. But Berlin is not going to be in any mood to grant concessions. Angela Merkel is already deeply unhappy about the European Central Bank’s programme of quantitative easing and the Germans will not agree to any backsliding on structural reforms in Greece or easing of austerity.

One of the reasons that Berlin is in such uncompromising mood is that it fears a domino effect if Syriza achieves changes to the terms of the Greek bailout. They worry that Podemos, the new anti-austerity party in Spain, would then triumph in the Spanish elections later this year. Another reason is domestic politics. The anti-single currency Alternative for Deutschland is currently polling at around 7 percent. But concessions to Greece, could out rocket boosters under it and see it take serious chunks out of the CDU and the CSU.

If Syriza do win an overall majority, the irresistible force of the sovereign will of the Greek people will meet the immoveable object of Germany’s commitment to strict Eurozone rules.