The Grexit Through a Defensive Neorealist Lens

  • Abstract:

    The Euro currency has been around for less than two decades, yet in 2015, we are already seeing a large Euro-crisis of the potential Greek exit from the Eurozone, which has now been termed the ‘Grexit’. The notion of Greece withdrawing from the Euro currency is coupled with Greece’s issues with their own public debt. This past June, a bailout referendum left to the popular vote failed. There have been two elections this year already, the first in January and the second in September. It is fair to say that domestic Greek politics are experiencing a type of limbo with internal and external factors pulling at it. Prime Minister Tsipras and his Syriza party have been instrumental in opposition to further proposed bailouts. This calls for a look into Tsipras’ intentions, especially through a realist lens. Although realism has been traditionally discussed in terms of hard power and exertion of power upon other states, I argue aspects of realism can be construed towards a soft power argument. That is, Tsipras is evoking defensive neorealism, popularised by Kenneth Waltz, in dealing with the Eurozone crisis. The key tenets of neorealism utilised by Tsipras include the European Union as a system being anarchic. In addition, one can never know other state’s intentions (i.e. Germany has been seen as fuddling with Greek elections); one has to be set on survival, and one must always be thinking towards survival. In general, I will look at these facets of neorealism and apply them towards Tsipras and other Prime Ministers of the recent past to show the changing dynamic of the Greek leader at the time and how it influences the potential Grexit.