The blame game has begun

A hundred and one years ago on Sunday, gun shots rang out in a city in southern Europe. Few at the time paid much heed to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife as they drove through the streets of Sarajevo. Within six weeks, however, Europe was at war.

Make no mistake, the decision by Alexis Tsipras to hold a referendum on the bailout terms being demanded of his country has the potential to be a Sarajevo moment. The crisis is not just about whether there is soon to be a bank run in Greece, although there is certainly the threat of one. It is not just about whether the creditors overplayed their hand in the negotiations, although they did. It is about the future of the euro itself.
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There will be much talk in the next few days about how Greece can be quarantined. The three people who have been leading the negotiations for the troika – Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, Jean-Claude Juncker of the European commission and Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank – can still cling to the hope that Tsipras will lose the referendum next Sunday.

In those circumstances, the Syriza-led coalition would have little choice but to hold an election. The return of a government headed by, for example, the centre-right New Democracy, would open up the possibility that Athens would sue for peace on the terms demanded by the troika.

There is, however, no guarantee of this. The troika was certain last week that Tsipras would fold when presented with a final take-it-or-leave-it offer. They were wrong. The Fund, the ECB and the European commission made a fatal misjudgement and have now lost control of events.

Lees deze column van Larry Elliott verder op The Guardian >>>