Ever since snap elections were held in Greece in January 2015, the newly elected Syriza government led by Alexis Tsipras has been engaged in a dangerous Game of Chicken with their creditors. Greece’s main lenders have been the IMF and fellow European countries. The European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International monetary Fund (IMF), collectively known as the “Troika” have outlined the blueprints for austerity policies in Greece and other EU countries until now.
Since the election of Tsipras, tense negotiations have taken place at Eurogroup meetings, particularly between its Dutch President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his flamboyant Hellenic counterpart Yanis Varoufakis. Neither parties want the fretted “Grexit” which would leave Greece out of the Eurozone, but Syriza claims that it will not cross red-lines such as cutting pensions or firing public workers, whilst European governments do not want to bailout the Mediterranean country indefinitely.
At first Tsipras tried to find allies to unite against austerity policies in fellow left-wing leaders like French President Hollande and Italian PM Renzi, but instead he seems to have accidentally created a pro-austerity coalition out of Slovakia, Finland, Latvia, Spain and Portugal – all of which have had austere spending cuts of their own.
The clock is ticking for Greece as its treasury runs dry and debt payments loom. In this game of chicken it is starting to seem that Tsipras will have to blink first.