Thursday, 17 November 2011

Our poll: Papandreou erred. Or did he?

Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stumbled badly when he called a referendum on the EU financial aid package.

That was the overwhelming view of the participants in our latest poll that ran earlier this month.

Only one respondent to the anonymous survey said the scion of one of Greece's most prominent families had acted correctly in proposing the referendum -- a proposal he quickly withdrew before he was forced to resign in favor of a caretaker government.

No sooner had we posted the question than Papandreou backtracked on his threat, and the notion of a referendum was consigned to the dustbin. The near-unanimous view of our respondents seemed to be borne out by the Greek leader's own actions.

But today's certainties often change color with time. How will history judge Papandreou's move?

What if Papandreou was not interested in surviving politically -- an idea, I know, that is difficult to contemplate when considering modern-day politicians? What if his real intention was to provoke panic in financial markets and force the opposition to accept a unity government for the good of Greece? Did he succeed or fail?

Or what if he wanted to provoke panic in financial markets and thereby increase his leverage in negotiating with the EU -- to reduce the costs on Greece?

Or perhaps the lone respondent who hailed Papandreou's move was short Greek sovereign debt?

You might hear such questions in the halls of SAIS, where our students and faculty love to challenge the views of the many. No sacred cows or easy truths here.

Comments from our readers, Greek or otherwise, most welcome.

Nelson Graves