The Greek crisis has led Brussels into the business of regime change

Brussels should not be in the business of making or breaking governments. But that is nevertheless the dangerous point to which the European Union’s mishandling of the Greek crisis has brought it. The union “made” the present Syriza government in January this year by refusing to offer its predecessor, New Democracy, the softer terms on debt which would have allowed it to stay in office. But that could be put down to happenstance. The situation now is different, with European leaders openly campaigning for a yes vote in the Greek referendum due to be held on Sunday. A yes vote would almost certainly lead to the fall of the Syriza government. If this is not regime change, it comes perilously close to it, and it is a profoundly damaging development for the European project.

It is worth asking again at this critical stage who is most to blame, because that question is so often asked in the wrong way. Alexis Tsipras and his colleagues are amateur politicians who in normal circumstances would have been fulminating from the opposition benches without worrying about what to do if they achieved power. It is hardly surprising therefore that, cocky and erratic, they have made mistake after mistake.

But what do you have on the other side? What you have is an assembly of mature politicians with years of successfully navigating their own national politics and those of Europe behind them. A great repository of skill and expertise, which has produced what? One of the worst, if not the worst, crises in the history of the union. This is why mournful pronouncements of both parties being at fault are so unbalanced.

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