What is politics? A note on the discussion of the Left about the Grexit

This article was published September 10 in German.

A discussion about politics is always a discussion about power relations. If you want to solve a problem by political means, you need the political power to do so. Within democratic states, elections decide (at least in theory) who gains the authority to exercise power. Between states, the situation is much more complex. If one government wants to force another in a direction it does not want move to, it must have the power to do so. To that end, credible threats need to be formulated, sanctions need to be envisaged. From that vantage point, the position of Greece vis-à-vis the Eurogroup and Germany was easy to understand. In one word, Greece had no power. The other players had all the trump cards: no ifs and no buts, we have the money, you need it, you give in.

When we discuss the relationship between Germany and the debtor countries, what must be understood above all is the dominant power position of the creditor. Germany has built up a tremendous position of power within Europe because of its (unjustly acquired) superior competitive position and its extremely high current account surpluses. [...]

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