'Super Sunday' to decide fate of Europe
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Published on May 4, 2012
Article on EurActiv.com -
The second largest economy in Europe and a debt-ridden country on the brink of default. France and Greece are holding elections this Sunday in what can be the day that Europe re-shapes its economic future.
According to the latest polls, French socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande is 7 points ahead of his rival President Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande has openly rejected the current austerity trend that dominates Europe in favour of growth-oriented measures.
"The French elections are going to be a big game-changer for Europe and probably for the world. I'm sure Francois Hollande will win the elections and then we will have a different kind of France, a different kind of French-German relationship, different kind of european priorities. I expect that a lot will change as far the growth objectives are concerned", says Georgi Gotev, Senior Editor at EurActiv.com.
As a center piece of the so-called Merkozy alliance to steer Europe out of the crisis, the EU fiscal treaty is a big concern for the left-winger. Hollande believes it needs to be re-negotiated. If his victory becomes reality, a growth-minded Paris is set to clash with an austerity-minded Berlin.
Francois Hollande will be much more difficult to deal with from the point of view of Angela Merkel, specially on the treaty side and the budgetary discipline. He's been pushing hard for this growth initiative, which Angela Merkel has only partially subscribed to".says Frederic Simon, Editor at EurActiv.com.
Overshadowed by a fiery race to the power between the two French candidates, Greece has slowly faded away from the spotlight, particularly since it received its second bailout in early March. Experts believe that the strong guidance from the EU-IMF combo, with Germany in the background, make the Greek elections less relevant for the fate of the eurozone.
So the actual outcome of the Greek vote may be less relevant for the rest of Europe.
"Greece is been administered from the outside by the EU-IMF, you could argue almost directly by Germany. So regardless of who wins, there has been some commitments already by all political parties that they are going to stick to (...) Unless Greece choses to withdraw from the euro zone(...) I don't think this election will have any influence at all", says Frederic Simon, Editor at EurActiv.com.
The latest surveys suggest that no single party In Greece will gather enough votes to form a government. A weak coalition in power might lead to new elections. But the implementation of the cutbacks already agreed are also at stake.
"Greece will hold elections in the worst possible time. The country is going through its worse crisis since World War II. (...). I wouldn't be surprised if the extremes will gain ground at the elections. But at the same time, Greece has invented democracy and I think the majority of Greeks know perfectly well what Europe has done for them", says Georgi Gotev, Senior Editor at EurActiv.com.
With 2 summits coming up next month, the outcome of the French and Greek elections will shape the agenda of policymakers in Brussels. Francois Hollande has said that the people of Europe are looking at France. He couldn't be more right.
Laura Fernandez, EUX.TV
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