Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may have won a victory at home on Sunday as the Greek people dealt a resounding “no” to European austerity policies.
But Greece risks paying a high price for that decision. While the vote sharply consolidated Mr. Tsipras’s popularity, that could fade quickly if he leads the country deeper into bankruptcy and financial chaos, creating a new round of instability with consequences for Greece and the broader European project.
If anything, Mr. Tsipras is likely to find it harder, rather than easier, to strike a new financing deal quickly with European creditors, heightening the risk that Greece will careen out of the eurozone unless Europe decides to give Mr. Tsipras and his defiant nation another chance.
“What we need now is more wisdom from both sides,” said Loukas Tsoukalis, the president of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, an Athens-based think tank. “Greece can’t go on because we’re on the edge of cliff,” he said. “After all this, the question is whether our partners would be so unwise as to push Greece over the edge, because that would be damaging for everyone.”
Some European officials acknowledged Sunday that greater flexibility might now be needed from their camp. Just as the referendum vote divided Greece, so, too, did it reveal fault lines between those European countries that appear willing to bend to keep Greece in the eurozone, and others, including Germany and the Netherlands, whose policy makers have all but suggested that the eurozone would be better off without Greece.