Matt O’Brien in The Washington Post:
You can’t keep a country in a never-ending slump, or close enough to it, and not expect them to revolt. And when it does happen, odds are you won’t like the people leading it, either. Take Greece’s mainstream parties, the center-left Pasok and the center-right New Democracy. They were bastards, but they were Europe’s bastards. They ruled Greece as a corrupt duopoly, you see, and they deserved to lose. But they were at least willing to do what they were told for the sake of the common currency. That includes taking turns clutching the political grenade that is austerity. As you can see above, their combined share of the vote fell from 77 percent before the bailout began to 42 percent after they started implementing it to just 32.5 percent today. Europe’s strategy, in other words, hasn’t just been economically self-destructive, but politically, too. Forcing mainstream parties to follow failed policies only discredits them. The same thing happened in the 1930s when the establishment was only willing to leave the gold standard when staying on it had failed as much as it could.
And, then as now, this only concedes the economic high ground to the crazies. Now, Greece might have gotten lucky if Syriza, despite its mix of former and not-so-former Marxists, turns out to be not so radical. Its demands certainly aren’t. It wants more debt relief, which Greece has already gotten a lot of, and more social spending to fight their health and hunger crises. That should put Syriza firmly in the center-left, just with a little more emphasis on the left part. But if it fails, things could start to get a lot uglier. There are the neo-Nazis, who despite being on trial for murder, still came in third with 6.3 percent of the vote. The right-wing Independent Greeks, who are only a hop, skip, and a swastika away from being neo-Nazis themselves, at 4.75 percent. (Their leader, to give you an idea, made up a story about Jewish people getting special tax breaks). And then there are the real, live Communists, as in waving the hammer-and-sickle flag, at 5.5 percent. None of these are that big on their own, but if you add in all the smaller parties of fellow travelers—presumably Leninist-Marxists instead of Marxist-Leninists—you’re talking about 20 percent of the vote going to the far-left and the far-right. And that’s not even including Syriza.